Transport Minister Norman Baker has singled out the work done by SE7 to “negotiate savings” from the group of councils’ combined roads bill.
The minister championed the alliance of seven South East councils for its road maintenance efficiency drive at The Future Highways Delivery conference in London, pointing to savings through improved deals from contractors and their suppliers.
Surrey County Council’s highways head Jason Russell spoke alongside Mr Baker at the conference in his role for the Department for Transport’s Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme*.
Mr Baker said: “A review of the supply chain to negotiate savings with suppliers without going back through the procurement process is being piloted by the SE7 highway authorities and the Association of Greater Manchester councils. This is based on models used in the housing supply sector where this delivered up to 10% in savings.
“I am pleased that other authorities in Yorkshire, the South West, North East and North West are also actively considering setting up collaborative highway alliances. I would encourage all parts of the country to consider following this approach, appropriately tailored to local circumstances.
“There is a huge potential to make real cost savings for your authorities and still provide a first-class, quality service to residents and other highway users.”
Surrey County Council has the lead role in SE7 for finding ways to improve highway services and cut costs. The other councils involved are East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Brighton and Hove, and Medway.
Last month SE7 launched the UK’s first master’s degree course to train the next generation of public sector highway managers.
Surrey leader David Hodge said: “It’s fantastic to know that the highways work SE7 is doing to ensure taxpayers’ money goes further and further and residents get the very best services is so highly regarded by the Transport Minister. I firmly believe the public sector should be seen as a single team cooperating to save money wherever possible.”
* The programme, launched by Norman Baker last year, aims to help authorities nationally make savings by innovating.