Bid to extend Kier’s contract to maintain Suffolk’s roads for further five years

Kier's contract to maintain Suffolk's roads is set to be extended

Kier's contract to maintain Suffolk's roads is set to be extended - Credit: Archant

A proposal to extend the contract to maintain Suffolk’s roads for a further five years is set to spark a furious political row next week.

The county council wants to extend the contract with Kier MG for another five years when the initial deal runs out.

But the current contract was only signed in 2013 and runs for another two years.

The opposition Labour group believes the contract extension has been brought forward now to ensure that Kier MG will continue to maintain the county’s roads even if the Tories lose power at Endeavour House in May next year.

If the cabinet does approve the extension, and only Conservative cabinet members have a vote, then the Kier MG contract would run until 2023.

Labour group leader Sandy Martin said: “It would be ridiculous to simply extend the existing contract for the next five years without major changes to it. There have been many problems and it has not worked well.”

He said the only possible explanation for planning to extend it two years before the contract runs out was to prevent any new council from changing it after next May’s elections.

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The council said the extension of the contract would remove the risk of not keeping to the time-critical delivery of The Upper Orwell Crossings in Ipswich and the Third Crossing in Lowestoft.

If agreed, the contract could also be subject to the safeguard of performance assessments. These could result in the deduction of time from the five-year extension, should there be any notable future under-performance.

James Finch, cabinet member for transport, said: “Extending the Highways Services Contract by five years would not only provide the opportunity for a collaborative relationship to fully develop, but also secure the optimum benefits and investments which such an alliance can bring.

“If we decided not to extend the contract, we would, in effect, dissuade the growth of our collaborative relationship – at a time when the positive outcomes of this are starting to materialise.”