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February 2011

Upcoming challenges

Upcoming challenges

Snow – as luck would have it, Hounslow’s heaviest December snow for many, many years coincided with my visit to India, lucky for me that is.  I’m pleased to say that all reports indicate that my deputies for the call-out role and our contractor performed well, with all the treated routes remaining passable at all times.  I wonder if I can pull the same trick next time.

The amount of money available for local government services is of course uppermost in all our minds.

As I see it, we in highway maintenance and network management will do what we’ve always done in similar situations; we will continue to press for the resources we know we need to keep our network fit for purpose and if those resources are not forthcoming we will apply the resources that are available in the best way possible to keep our network available, and safe.

As you all know Hounslow is well into the procurement process for transferring our highway services to an external provider under a PFI arrangement.  This process too was not immune from the effects of the spending review.  DfT informed us that it wanted to reduce its hitherto promised contribution.

Myself, the rest of the internal procurement team and our external advisors all rose to the challenge and with some deft adjustments to the service standards and a degree of reigning in of some of our ambitions for new works and improvements, we managed to submit a report to DfT offering them the savings they needed. We are receiving priced bids from three shortlisted bidders on 18th February 2011.

The programme for our PFI is for the eventual Provider to take over on 1st January 2013.  So that we can get an advantageous and firm price from those still in the bidding process it is essential that the bidders know what condition the highway assets will be in when they take over.  To this end we have committed to ensuring the condition does not deteriorate from where it is now.

Another serious challenge then.  I’m confident my team and I will apply our engineering ingenuity to target the right treatment to the right parts of the network over the next two years.

As ever, never a dull moment in highway network maintenance and management; we try our best to plan whilst always knowing that an element of the unexpected is part of our “business as usual”.

Satbir Gill

Senior Vice President

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