Herefordshire Council is set to make significant changes to the way public spaces and roads are maintained, with plans to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on March 2, 2023. According to a recent review of public realm services, the current methods of service delivery do not match the council's vision for the future of these services, which aim to better meet the needs of local residents and communities.

The proposed changes include bringing technical and contract management in-house, investing in modern technology to improve customer contact, transitioning to electric vehicles and equipment, and maximizing resources. These changes are in line with the council's aim to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030.

The council has been working with Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), its partner organisation, to consider different options for delivering public realm services. The preferred model includes investment in technology, vehicles, and equipment, as well as a new approach to managing and staffing the contract.

Cllr John Harrington, Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, said, "Exploring the option of bringing technical and contract management staff back in-house, as well as the inspectors, gives me more confidence that Herefordshire Council can manage the contract better and that we take back more responsibility, with the associated risk, and give clearer direction to BBLP to ensure we get best value for money and are able to give more direction to our partner."

Cllr Gemma Davies, Cabinet member for Commissioning, Procurement and Assets, added that the proposed changes reflect the council's efforts to provide more scrutiny, accountability and best value from the contracts that are procured. She also noted that it is now more important than ever, with the cost of living crisis, that people rightly expect the council to be getting the most out of the outsourced contracts.

The changes will take effect from April 1, 2025, known as the Future Operating Model. The council hopes that these changes will result in better public realm services that will benefit the local communities in Herefordshire.