7th March 2024

The new model will give more power to Essex County Council to ensure value for money for residents.

The preferred model for delivering a highways service from April 2027 has been approved by Essex County Council’s Cabinet.

The current highways service is delivered through an integrated partnership contract between the council and Ringway Jacobs (Essex Highways). This contract runs to the end of March 2027.

The preferred model approved by Cabinet – the mixed economy model – will build on the success of this.

Currently, council staff are embedded within Essex Highways to share and strengthen the expertise needed to deliver a highways service.

However, the model recommended from April 2027 onwards is a more flexible type of contract that can reflect different approaches to delivering a highways service.

It will help the council explore innovation and new technological improvements, get the best blend of the public and private sector to ensure value for money, and offer flexibility that means the contracts, and the service, can be tailored to local needs.

There will also be a separate carriageway resurfacing programme contract.

The model that will now be developed will mean more resources within the council to oversee the highways service.

The preferred model puts the council in a stronger position to drive innovation, decision making, efficiencies and influence how the highways service is delivered in Essex.

The future service will continue to deliver against the council’s priorities of enabling safer, greener and healthier travel.

The ambition remains to deliver a good quality road network, which will support the economy and enable people and goods to move across the county.

The contract will also look at opportunities for active and sustainable travel and how this support future road usage to contribute towards delivering the net zero agenda. This work will also be important in contributing to healthy lifestyles, especially in priority areas for levelling up.

As the service is designed, the council will build in opportunities in the future service to reduce the carbon footprint of, for example, plant and vehicles, and by exploiting new technologies. This will ensure a safe road network for the people of Essex.

Councillor Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Sustainable Transport, said: “Pride in place is a key priority for residents of Essex and as a council we are on the side of our residents. The new model of highways delivery will have that principle firmly at its core.

“The council is looking carefully at how the next highways service can best encapsulate the ambition, vision and commitment to keep Essex safer, greener and healthier using innovation and sustainability. We want to be bold, remain dedicated to improving the county and best serve the needs of Essex, our residents and businesses.

“We want to shift the dial far enough to address the challenges we are facing. Designing the next highways contract and the service that will be delivered as part of it is our chance to do that.”

The council has been engaging with local authorities and the highways market to gather information about current challenges and opportunities in delivering a highways service and what is available on the market.

The team leading on this will work will continue to engage with these groups as the service under the Mixed Economy Model is designed.

It is expected the tender for the contract will go to the market in mid-2025.