An agreement has been struck that will see Oxford City Council provide routine highway maintenance services in the city, for a period of up to five years, on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council.
The move reflects the County Council’s commitment to getting the best out of its resources, and investing more money in road repairs. This has recently seen it commit to doubling this year’s budget by adding an extra £10m, which will be spent on surfacing across Oxfordshire.
The City Council, through its wholly-owned company Oxford Direct Services, will repair potholes, carry out resurfacing work, and deal with other road-related issues such as signing, lining and drains. The agreement builds on a long-standing arrangement which has seen the County Council providing funding for the City Council to do similar work on minor roads in the city.
Oxfordshire County Council will continue to provide highway maintenance throughout the rest of Oxfordshire. It will also continue to work on items such as major road rebuilding, along with bridges, street lights and traffic lights in the city.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Yvonne Constance, said: “The agreement is all about getting the best value for money for road repairs in the city. It is a good practical solution that should work for both parties – it means that the teams we had in the city can be deployed elsewhere in the county while the Oxford based workers do more of the sort of routine work they have been doing for us for many years.
“Oxford is quite self-contained and that is why we think using the City Council’s team will work well. We hope they will be able to respond quickly and get more work done which, in turn, means our own contractors can focus more on the rest of Oxfordshire’s road network.”
“Oxfordshire County Council takes road repairs very seriously and we want the best for our residents in Oxford and beyond. The repairs will still be paid for by the County Council and people will still report things through Fix My Street as usual. So while there will be no change there, we will be monitoring the new arrangements with our colleagues at the City Council to ensure it’s working well.”
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Oxford City Council Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services said: "We agreed to take on this service in April. It has taken a while to sort out all the requirements for the contract. but we didn't want to rush it. We wanted to get this right so that top quality highway maintenance in Oxford can continue seamlessly. We can now look forward to providing that efficient and value for money service for residents."
Councillor Hollingsworth added: "This means that Oxford City Council will have greater ability to prioritise work to reflect local needs. Road repairs are still critically under-funded by central Government, and there is no "overnight solution" to the problem, but despite this we are aiming to offer the city's road users the best, most efficient, effective, value for money service that we can."
Until now, most highway maintenance on the principal roads in the city has been carried out by Oxfordshire County Council through their contract with Skanska, but for over 20 years Oxford City Council has maintained minor roads with funding from the County Council.
The value of the agreement is £2.6m.
Oxford residents will still be able to report road maintenance problems, such as potholes, through the County Council's "fix my street" website.