The Director of Management of Place introduced the item, and the Head of Traffic & Highways Maintenance shared a presentation giving an overview of the Highways Maintenance service.
Members noted the national shortage of engineers and asked what kind of apprenticeship programmes were on offer in the service and if you needed to be a university graduate to access those roles. Officers noted that the team take on apprentices right from school leaver age providing they have the right qualifications and if successful, they would be given the opportunity to undertake full time roles within the team.
Members went on to ask about level of engagement with schools and breaking down stereotypes as apprenticeships were often perceived to be the second class option over degrees, which was not true. Officers advised that the council’s apprenticeships team had a range of contacts which helped maximise the reach for apprenticeship vacancies and that there were lots of success stories within the team which were used to break down those stereotypes as some apprenticeships went up to degree level. Members urged the team to take on more apprentices where funding allows.
There was a conversation around funding for road repairs and maintenance and Members asked how the council ensures contractors are held accountable if work is not completed to a good standard. Members were advised that the council would dispute should they be dissatisfied with the work completed but the team carry out regular checks, especially on large projects to ensure work was to a good standard.
There was a conversation around the reporting of highways maintenance issues and officers noted that this could be done in person at the Citizen Service Points if residents were unable to access the online portal ‘Fix My Streets’ or were experiencing long wait times on the phone. Members asked about wait times for fixing streetlights and asked if solar panels could be an option for powering them going forwards. Officers noted that the team were looking at replacing streetlights with LEDs to ensure better efficiency going forwards and that potential funding had been identified subject to a business case, but this was still in early stages.
Action: The Director of Management of Place to provide information around the average wait time for fixing streetlights once reported.
There was a conversation around the durability of concrete roads and the impact of climate change on the materials used for surface relaying, repairs, maintenance etc. and Members raised concerns around potholes. It was advised that colleagues in the service were looking at more durable materials and conducting research around work that had been completed in hotter climates.
Action: The Director of Management of Place to provide Commission Members with further information around the durability of materials used for repairs and maintenance currently, and around the recent research into the materials used in hotter climates. Also, information around long term plans for concrete roads.
A Member asked if the council has any guarantees with the contractors who completed the surface relaying work on Broad Quay and was advised that the relevant officer would be able to provide further information on this after the meeting.
Action: The Director of Management of Place to provide Commission Members with further information on the council’s guarantees with the contractors who completed the recent surface relaying works on Broad Quay.
There was a conversation around funding for the repairs and maintenance of Plimsoll Bridge and Gaol Ferry Bridge and Members asked for more information around timescales for these works.
Action: The Director of Management of Place to provide further information around timescales for the repairs and maintenance of Plimsoll Bridge and Gaol Ferry Bridge.