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From: Rashdi, Freda [mailto:freda.rashdi@highways.gsi.gov.uk]
Sent: 01 May 2012 18:03
To: ‘Peter Silverman’
Subject: RE: Urgent …Highways Agency’s new Asset Support Contract

 

Dear Mr Silverman,

Thank you for your e-mail to the Mike Penning MP, dated 10th April 2012. Your correspondence has been passed to me as my team are responsible for the Highways Agency’s Sweeping and Cleaning maintenance requirements.

Responding to each heading from the website you reference, in turn;

 

“Lower Standards”

Fundamentally, the Asset Maintenance and Operational Requirements (AMOR) has been a shift in direction for the Highways Agency’s maintenance requirements from the prescriptive requirements of the Network Management Manual (NMM) and the Routine and Winter Service Code (RWSC), towards a less prescriptive, outcome based requirement.

The recommendations of the National Audit Office (NAO) ‘Contracting For Highways Maintenance’ 2009 stated that the Agency should; “review the standards documents underpinning MAC contracts to ensure they are outcome based as far as possible;” and that we should; “rebalance its quality assurance of MAC contractors’ work towards outcomes and performance relative to external benchmarks rather than just processes;”. These recommendations are to allow contractors to achieve value for money for the taxpayer, through innovation.

Part 15 of AMOR complies with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse (the Code), however it is important that the outcome is within the gift of the contractor (provider). An outcome of “clean and free from litter” would mean that the provider would fail the requirement as soon as one individual littered. We do not believe that this is fair on the contractor. The Code recognises that too under section 7.3 (“It is recognised that grade A cannot be maintained at all times…”) and also the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) itself, under Section 89(2) (“…ensure that the highways or road is, so far as is practicable, kept clean”). The structure of the outcome in AMOR (“predominantly free from litter”) is in line with the EPA and the Code and is technically achievable for our contractors.

It is important to understand that the high-level outcome is also supported by individual Deliverables that are at an operational-level. Of particular interest would be Deliverables 5 & 6 which mandates our provider to maintain paved areas to grade A, as defined in the Code. To paraphrase, the operational aspiration is for no litter, but we understand that this is not always possible.

We do not believe that the AMOR does lower standards. It provides achievable requirements that still mandate maintaining the asset to grade A.

 

“Use of “last resort” response times”

The AMOR does not prescribe any cleansing schedules. We believe that in order to deliver the outcome of Part 15 the suppliers must manage their risks in such a way that they are free to innovate. If we prescribed set cleaning schedules we would remove this opportunity, which would not provide best value for the taxpayer.

The use of the “last resort response times” as the Performance Metrics and Performance Requirement Levels (PRL) is not relied on solely. It is important to have also read Part 0 of AMOR; “Meeting any Performance Requirement Level identified in these Maintenance and Operational requirements is not determinative of compliance with the Provider Outcomes.” In other words, success at meeting the PRL could still mean that the provider fails at the Outcome level.

 The use of the “last resort response times” as PRL is a succinct way of further aligning our maintenance requirements with the Code. Again Deliverables 5 and 6 both stipulate that levels should be maintained to Grade A, as per the Code  section 6.5.

 

“No monitoring of performance is possible”

Monitoring of performance is a constant activity carried out by the Agency’s Service Delivery Teams. If the application of “last resort response times” has arisen then that could be through a number of means; provider inspection, Agency inspection, or notification from a third party.

However in the instance you describe, it is important to note that the provider would have not conformed to the outcome under AMOR.

The determination of grading applies as per the Code’s guidelines. 28 days is taken from the Code and is an absolute permissible maximum. If the provider can generate best value for the taxpayer by attending earlier then they are free to do that.

 

Conclusion

The AMOR does not place the Secretary of State for Transport in breach of her responsibility under the EPA 1990.

The AMOR seeks to further align the Agency’s maintenance requirements for sweeping and cleaning with the EPA and the Code.

 

Yours sincerely

Freda Rashdi, Network Management Solutions Team Leader
Highways Agency | Piccadilly Gate | Store Street | Manchester | M1 2WD
Web: http://www.highways.gov.uk

 

Relevant posts and links

 

 

 

 

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