Roads contract is the number one priority – transport chief

James Finch.

James Finch. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The new county council cabinet member for transport has made sorting out Kier MG’s management of Suffolk’s roads his highest priority after his first two months in the job were dominated with problems.

James Finch took over the transport job in Colin Noble’s first cabinet after he became leader of the council at the end of May.

He said he had been frustrated by the problems with the highways contract – which has been running for two years – and was in regular contract with Kier MG.

At this week’s council meeting he was asked questions about the contract, which has caused growing concern.

Labour transport spokeswoman Sandra Gage asked if he had a timeline for improvement by Kier MG after it was revealed that the company had missed at least 10 of its 24 targets every month this year.

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And UKIP councillor David Hudson said it had reached only 55% of its targets in March – a fall from its January figure.

Mr Finch said he was frustrated by the problems associated with the contract and was working hard to try to sort them out.

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He said: “This is absolutely my number one priority. We are working very closely with Kier to try to address these issues and I will not rest until things improve.

“I have delayed my holiday to ensure that this has my full attention – we need to get this sorted out because problems with the roads affect thousands of people.”

The five-year contract started two years ago, but Mr Finch did not think threatening to end it early would be good for the people of Suffolk because other arrangements would have to be made.

He added: “Kier have got some things right. Ironically their work on emergency repairs has been good – it is the routine work where there have been problems and that is what we need to address.”

The next big challenge for the company will come during the winter months ahead.

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