Thames Water tenders £4.5m auditing services contract

Driverless cars ‘to be on UK roads by 2021’

Self-driving cars are expected to be on Britain’s roads by 2021, the Transport Secretary will say on Monday.

Chris Grayling will use a speech to the Association of British Insurers to outline his ambition for the UK to lead the driverless car “revolution”.

He is also expected to explain how he believes the new technology could transform the lives of elderly and disabled people who are currently unable to drive.

Mr Grayling will say: “We’ve seen nothing in our lifetimes that can compare with the motoring revolution that’s just around the corner.

“A revolution that will transform the way we travel, the way we buy, run and power our cars, and the way we insure them.

“There are major opportunities in this fast emerging market for those who are best prepared.

“It is estimated that the market for autonomous vehicles could be worth £28 billion to the UK by 2035.

“That’s why we are so committed to becoming a global leader in the design, development and use of autonomous vehicles.”

The Department for Transport said a survey found that 96% of older people believe a self-driving car would help them get out of the house more often, and a third of people with a disability say it would give them greater independence.

Mr Grayling will tell the audience at the City of London event: “The potential benefits of these new technologies for human mobility – and for wider society – are tremendously exciting.

“Many who can’t currently drive will be able to take to the road.

“Elderly people or people with disabilities which prevent them from travelling today will discover a new sense of freedom and independence.”

The Transport Secretary will say that the Government is already taking steps to be at the forefront of developing this technology.

A new compulsory insurance framework that covers automated vehicles will be mandated as part of measures in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which is going through Parliament.

“This will ensure that victims have quick and easy access to compensation,” Mr Grayling will claim.

A “cluster of excellence” is to be created along the M40 corridor to develop driverless car technology using existing testing centres in Birmingham, Coventry, Oxford, Milton Keynes and London.

An RAC poll in July found that two out of five motorists believe the Government should concentrate on improving roads instead of supporting the growth of autonomous vehicles.

The survey of almost 2,200 drivers found that 39% want work such as redesigning congestion pinch points and repairing potholes to be given preference.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents felt money would also be better spent on health or education, while 17% support investment in driverless cars but believe it “should not be a priority”.

Castle Water secures £multi-million retail business contract

Castle Water has secured a major national contract through the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework for the provision of water and wastewater services to the public sector in England.

The company will now extend its services to supply contracts for up to three years to select public sector customers nationally, including those located in Yorkshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

Commenting on the contract, Sam Ulyatt, Strategic Category Commercial Director for Crown Commercial Service, said:

“In April we brought the largest public sector water framework agreement to the UK market. The agreement will eventually support the public sector to save £20 million on its water bill, leveraging the buying power of the public sector to support the delivery of efficient and effective public services.”

Castle Water already supplies hundreds of thousands of businesses, charities and public bodies throughout England and Scotland – its customer services are all UK based and delivered in-house.

In 2016, Castle Water acquired the business customers of Portsmouth Water and Thames Water in advance of deregulation of the English water market in 2017.

John Reynolds, Chief Executive of Castle Water, said:

“As the UK’s leading independent water retailer, we supply hundreds of thousands of businesses, charities and public bodies throughout England and Scotland. We see this as a further opportunity to use our expertise in delivering best value and significant cost savings for our growing number of public sector customers in the new competitive market.”

Millions to be spent on energy-saving street lights across Glasgow

Millions of pounds is to be spent on the ongoing scheme to replace unpopular sodium lights with white energy saving bulbs.

This week, city councillors will be asked to approve a contract worth almost £2m for the design, delivery and installation of around 3300 LED lights which will replace the orange bulbs in existing lampposts.

They will be connected to a city-wide control system which will be able to alter the brightness of street lights depending on a number of factors including the time of day.

If the contract with electricity firm SSE is approved, it could be extended in future years to provide a further 20,000 white lights, provided money is available.

Councillors will be told the new lights will reduce the city’s carbon footprint and would allow Glasgow to compete with the best cities in the world for investment, business and events.

A report says: “The project covers the replacement of legacy sodium lanterns contained within lighting columns across the city with new and more energy efficient LED lanterns.

“These will help reduce energy usage on street lighting across the city, reducing carbon emissions.

“The local economy will benefit from modern, efficient street lighting that will make the city better lit and more attractive to visitors, as well as providing a key service for local communities.”

Four years ago, the council announced it was going to replace thousands of unpopular sodium lights with new brighter “intelligent lighting”.

It allows for lighting to be increased if there is an event in an area such as a concert or street festival.

Any faults in the system can also be automatically reported to the operations centre, speeding up repair times and increasing efficiency.

LED lighting has already been introduced on most of the main roads leading into the city.

City council leader Susan Aitken said: “Intelligent street lighting offers the chance of more effective, efficient and environmentally friendly lighting in Glasgow.

“This lighting can be centrally controlled, allowing energy to be used when and where in the city it is needed most and promises to be a major improvement on existing systems.”

Not-for-profit Welsh Water voted ‘Best water company’ in UK

The only not-for-profit utility in England and Wales Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water has been recognised as ‘Most Recommended’ water company in the UK by Moneywise magazine

A survey of readers of Moneywise magazine, totalling 5,000 responses, saw Welsh Water top the poll of water companies in the UK, with customers singling out value for money, good customer service and clear and concise bills.

It came as part of the personal finance magazine’s Home Finances Awards, covering readers’ views across a range of providers for water, gas, electricity, broadband and mobile phones.

The company, which employs more than 3,000 people, was voted the Most Recommended by Moneywise readers.

Welsh Water is unique in the water industry, as the only not-for-profit water company in Wales and England – with no shareholders, the firm directs any surplus it generates back into the business and services. It serves more than three million customers across most of Wales, Cheshire, and Herefordshire.

It has also involved customers in its decision-making to an unprecedented degree – consulting nearly 21,000 during the summer on how it should prioritise its long-term investments.

Welsh Water said the award reflects efforts the company has made to further improve its customer service offering, coming on the back of record investment in its water and wastewater networks, and confirmation of eight consecutive years of below-RPI inflation bill price rises. The company has also confirmed it now supports 91,000 low-income households with its range of social tariffs, like HelpU.

Water industry customer watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water, also reported that Welsh Water was the most trusted of all water and sewerage companies in Wales and England.

Welsh Water Chief Executive, Chris Jones, said:

“This result is great recognition that we are delivering for our customers. Our not-for-profit way of working has our customers at the heart of everything we do – and this is crucial to realising our company vision of earning the trust of our customers, every day.”

Telford puts £220m highways maintenance deal up for grabs

Telford & Wrekin Council is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified contractors to take over its highways maintenance services.

The contract will run for an initial seven years, until the end of March 2026, with an option to renew for a further seven years. Contract value over the full term is estimated at £220m.

The preferred bidder is expected to be appointed in September 2018 and start work in April 2019, replacing the current highways contract with TWS.

A similar procurement process for the council’s grounds maintenance and street cleaning services will also begin soon.

These services are also currently provided by TWS (Telford & Wrekin Services Ltd), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Focsa Services (UK).

Telford & Wrekin Council has 626 miles of road, 132 miles of cycle ways, 135 bridges, 120 roundabouts and 16,000 street signs to be looked after.

Interested bidders can register for further information through the council’s procurement portal.

Dutch-made tidal flood barrier gate arrives in Ipswich as part of £70m scheme

Millions to be spent repairing Devon’s potholed roads

Roads across Devon will receive a funding boost

More than £3m of Pothole Action Funding is to be used to fund over 250 road repair schemes across Devon.

Devon County Council has announced the roads which will be repaired using its £3.192m allocation from the government.

Most of the work will be patching, but resurfacing work will also be carried out. To ensure the funding is spent in the areas of most need, the funding allocations have been determined using pothole frequency data.

The programme includes:

  • More than £250,000 allocated for roads in Exeter
  • Over £210,000 in the Torrington area
  • Around £182,000 in the Holsworthy area
  • More than £180,000 for the divisions covering the Bideford area
  • Over £146,000 for Axminster, more than £132,000 in the South Molton area
  • Over £130,000 in Newton St Cyres
  • Around £83,000 in the Broadclyst and Whimple area
  • More than £62,000 in the South Brent and Dartington area
  • Over £51,000 in the Cullompton area
  • More than £51,000 in the Exminster and Kenton division

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management, said: “This investment of more than £3m is being spent on roads that need it the most and are local priorities, and we’re making sure that the money goes as far as possible.

“With the biggest road network of any local authority in the country it’s impossible to repair every road in Devon that needs attention but we’re making the best use of the money we’ve been given by government.”

The Pothole Action Funding is in addition to the £44,325,000 of capital funding for highway maintenance which the county council has received from the Department for Transport for 2017/18.

However, this is not only used to cover the cost of road repairs but also goes towards maintenance of pavements, street lighting, traffic signals, bridges, drainage systems, safety barriers and public rights of way, among other work.

Devon’s 8,000 mile road network needs around £55m of capital investment every year to maintain its current condition.

The Pothole Action Fund repair schemes have to be completed before April. The full list of schemes is available here.

£27 million Anchorsholme flood scheme opens in Blackpool

Lower Thames Crossing plans ‘will help tackle rush-hour congestion’