0 Wiltshire Council and Balfour Beatty agree to end troubled £150m highways contract early

Wiltshire Council has confirmed it has come to an agreement with Balfour Beatty Living Places to end the heavily criticised £150m contract to maintain the county's roads and streets two years early

Wiltshire CouncilBBLP took on the five-year contract with Wiltshire Council in 2013 and has been heavily criticised about its performance ever since, with towns and villages across the county unhappy with its grass-cutting provision.

Picture right: Local resident Wayne Kibble spent five hours mowing a council open space near his home in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, after council contractors let it grow two feet high.

Residents have repeatedly complained about overgrown grass being ignored over the last two summers, with some becoming so exasperated that they started cutting it themselves.

The contract will now end in March next year, following a "phased transfer plan" which will see the council take on a number of existing subcontractor agreements, before starting a new tender process.

In a joint statement, Wiltshire Council and Balfour Beatty said: "Wiltshire Council and Balfour Beatty (BBLP) have mutually agreed to end their contract after it became clear that the contractual arrangements were no longer appropriate for either party.

"The current contract will end on 31 March 2016. A phased transfer plan to minimise disruption to the service is now in place.

"A number of existing subcontractor agreements will transfer to Wiltshire Council for continuity in major resurfacing, ground maintenance and grass cutting services. The council will now seek a service provider to start a new contract on 1 April 2016.

"In the meantime Balfour Beatty will remain responsible for street lighting maintenance and highways activity such as temporary repair works, paths and cycle schemes, and will continue to work closely with Wiltshire Council."

The council's scrutiny committee investigated the contract just three months after it was awarded due to the volume of complaints and said it was "performing satisfactorily", but highlighted areas for improvement.

In March, the council confirmed that Balfour Beatty had sub-contracted all the grass cutting work throughout Wiltshire to former highways contractor English Landscape, apart from the road verges.

For the original article, visit www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk.

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