East Sussex Opts For Costain
28 April 2016
Costain has secured a strategic contract win to help East Sussex County Council maintain its highways network over the next seven years.
The contract, won in joint venture with CH2M, will formally start on 1 May. It will bring together several aspects of highways maintenance, such as roads, pavements, drainage, street lights, traffic lights and structures that are currently run by outside contractors and the county council.
Significantly for Costain, this is the first highways maintenance contract to be won from a county council, covering a much broader spectrum of activities than normal. In East Sussex at present, Kier runs highways maintenance, Colas the street lighting contract and Siemens the traffic signals.
Integrating these activities will see more than 200 staff transferring across to the Costain-CH2M organisation.
Around 20 East Sussex staff will manage the contract and the council will retain control of areas such as policy setting, long-term strategy and service development. The jv will design and build the physical works required in an annual plan.
On more reactive maintenance, 12 stewards from the council, together with inspectors from the jv, will be out and about, looking for defects such as potholes.
However, a significant aspect of the jv’s activities will be to gain maximum involvement from the local community. “We’re going to be really interactive with the general public,” said David Bailey, Costain’s Local Authorities Director.
A local call centre handles some 100,000 calls annually, with the service handling around 30,000 defects a year. By creating a new website through which residents can report road or street lighting problems and receive status updates, the jv is seeking to drive down this number.
To make it easier for the call centre personnel – dubbed STARS, or ‘Service To All Residents’ – an automated customer relationship management system called Sales Force will be making its first appearance in this area of work. Staff coming on duty will find calls ranked in levels of priority and an important part of the system will be to put more information at the STARS’ fingertips, so they can answer more residents’ enquiries.
The website will also open a line of communication with local councillors – “Critical people to build relationships with,” commented David – with a section to which they have private access and where they can get detailed information on problems in their individual wards.
The contract is worth £300 million over seven years and could lead to more opportunities of this type: “We’re very much going for big, integrated contracts,” said David, “but we’re being very selective over jobs we’re bidding for.”
Costain Communications Department