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
Scottish Parliament Local Government and Transport
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
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
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.
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
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
UNISON Scotland has campaigned that this anomaly
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.