Council meeting regarding Highways Contract Requisition

As previously detailed, Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association councillors, supported by RA councillors from other parts of the borough, recently requisitioned (called-in) Havering Council’s Executive Decision to extend the current Planned Maintenance and Construction Improvement Schemes Contract by two years from 2022. This was done because of a number of local instances of poor road maintenance and the extremely long timescales in repairing even the most serious potholes. As part of this, we submitted 17 questions regarding the current contract.

The meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board to discuss the requisition, was held on Thursday 13 May.

Council officers provided written and verbal answers to our initial questions, and answered a large number of follow-up points. It became clear, that officers are content with the performance of the current contractor, Marlborough Surfacing Limited (MSL), and that many of the problems that have been experienced, particularly in the reactive side of the contract (such as pothole repairs), were due to failings within the council’s own Highways Department.

Officers admitted that, as well as problems caused by the pandemic, there had been a large number of staff members leave over an extended time period and this had led to unacceptable delays in highways work being undertaken. Indeed, MSL had stepped in to assist on several occasions, outside of the main terms of their contract. The staffing levels were currently being addressed with attempts to recruit new personnel and council officers hoped the situation would improve.

At the end of the meeting, the Overview and Scrutiny Board members voted not to pass the matter onto the Cabinet for further review of whether to extend the contract, and the extension will now proceed.

Residents’ Association councillors are disappointed that the serious issues highlighted within the Highways department were not previously brought to councillors attention officially, and we will continue to monitor the situation and hold the current administration to account if the situation does not improve.

To see details of the meeting and/or view the webcast, visit the O&S meeting 13 May 21 link.


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