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Response to the call for Evidence on Contracts for the Maintenance of Trunk Roads The UNISON Scotland Submission

To the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Transport Committee

March 2005

Scottish Parliament Local Government and Transport Committee

Call for Evidence: Contracts for the Maintenance of Trunk Roads


UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to the call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Transport Committee on Contracts for the Maintenance of Trunk Roads. UNISON Scotland welcomes the re-tendering of the contracts for the maintenance of Trunk Roads, but with caution and some key concerns. These concerns fall into three main categories; faults, in house tendering and pensions.

The Road Ahead - A Review of the Management and Maintenance Arrangements for Scottish Trunk Roads.

UNISON Scotland submitted a response to the Scottish Executive's consultation on The Road Ahead - A Review of the Management and Maintenance Arrangements for Scottish Trunk Roads in 1999. It is worth re-iterating the key issues UNISON Scotland raised then to the Local Government and Transport Committee.

UNISON Scotland believes that the Scottish Executive should not rush into early decisions regarding contractual arrangements which may bind future decision-makers to outmoded policies and political dogma.

UNISON Scotland believes that there should be a moratorium on all changes to trunk road arrangements until the Scottish Parliament has had full opportunity to deliberate upon the wider picture, in relation to the total road network in Scotland as currently administered by local authorities as well as the Scottish Executive.

UNISON Scotland believes that there are many fundamental issues to be decided (such as network split, funding and accountability) before meaningful long term (3 years or more) management and maintenance arrangements can be effectively and efficiently implemented. Until such issues are deliberated upon it is recommended that the current arrangement be extended year on year utilising the worthwhile partnership which has developed over the past decades between Scottish Executive Engineers and local authority Engineers at all levels.

UNISON Scotland recognises that there are very important staffing implications arising from the consultation paper's suggestions and is concerned that a number of the possible future arrangements proposed are worded to indicate an underlying preference towards taking work away from local authorities in relation to the current trunk road network.

However, UNISON Scotland is disappointed that there has been no movement what so ever with these concerns first raised in 1999.


When the second annual report of the privatised trunks road maintenance, carried out by the private consortium Performance Assessment Group (PAG), was released, UNISON Scotland raised concern over the private sectors maintenance and management off our trunk roads.

At that time, we had endured just over two years of the private sector maintaining our trunk roads. During this period over 80 default notices had been issued. In some areas the level of maintenance was so bad that local communities had to take matters into their own hands. An example of this would be in Fort Augustus where the reduction of grass cutting on the A82 gave such concern over the sightlines in bends that local villagers cut the grass themselves. The PAG report even mentioned that grass cutting got off to a slow start.

It is the view of UNISON Scotland members working in the Roads departments of Scotland's 32 Local Authorities that the standard of maintenance of our Trunk Roads is poor and not giving Best Value.

In House Tendering

With the appointment of Bear Scotland and AMEY to maintain our trunk roads, UNISON Scotland is concerned that the ability for a local authority to tender an in house bid has now gone. Scotland's 32 Local Authorities would have difficulty in preparing in-house bid for a Trunk Road Contract. There is no bench mark against which to measure private sector bids.

UNISON Scotland believes that the contract letting must be clear and transparent. There is a commonly held view that this was not the case when letting the previous contact.

Staffing Issues

Within the call for evidence, there is no reference what-so-ever to staffing issues.

UNISON Scotland is concerned that when the trunk road contracts were passed on from Scotland local authorities to Bear Scotland and AMEY, responsibility for meeting the obligations and expenses arising out of TUPE, and appropriate transfers under TUPE terms and conditions did take place. However, we are concerned that this did not protect future benefits from public sector pension schemes.

When Bear Scotland and AMEY won the award, the Executive did not apply the cabinet office guidance on TUPE, this meant they didn't require bidders to provide a broadly comparable pension scheme.

UNISON Scotland has campaigned that this anomaly be rectified.

UNISON Scotland would want assurances, if re-tendering should go ahead, then staff transferred to the tender would have continued access to the Local Government Pension Scheme, and that this pension scheme should also be accessible for new employees. There is a concern that pensions and particularly admission agreements with the LGPS have not been mentioned in the consultation paper.

We believe that very few transport initiatives require to be managed on this type of basis. Most services are best managed and delivered either locally by individual councils or regionally by local authorities voluntarily coming together in appropriate public service networks.

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For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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