THE COUNCIL could spend up to £241m on improving and fixing its roads over the next seven years after signing a multi-million pound contract with a highways agency.

VolkerHighways and Wokingham Borough Council agreed a deal earlier this year which will see the highways company undertake major road developments and highways maintenance, including fixing street lighting, bridges, drainage and more.

Council leader Charlotte Haitham Taylor said at a council meeting: “I'm sure residents will be pleased to hear they will be getting more potholes filled."

Alistair Thompson, managing director of VolkerHighways, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this new contract and look forward to delivering a quality service, through our highways alliance with Wokingham Borough Council and WSP.”

Cllr Anthony Pollock, executive member for Highways and Transport at the council said, “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with WSP and VolkerHighways to deliver a more agile, efficient and informative service.”

An officer working for Wokingham Borough Council told the News that expenditure through the VolkerHighways contract will change year on year depending on Wokingham’s own highways services and infrastructure projects, as well as the use of the contract by the other Berkshire councils.

The lowest amount the council is forecast to spend is £68M, however this could rise to £241M over the contract term.

Residents will be able to report road issues directly to the new highways managers through the council’s online ‘report it’ system.

Users will then be informed of the progress of the works being carried out as they happen.

The council has also awarded another highways contract to road design group WSP and together, the VolkerHighways, Wokingham Borough Council and WSP will form the ‘Wokingham Highways Alliance’.

The group’s work will start on October 1, 2019 after the current contract with Balfour Beatty Living Places comes to an end.

VolkerHighways has contracts with other councils across the country, including a £200m deal to look after Luton's roads and a £7m agreement to replace Bristol's street lights.

A report produced for the council suggested Wokingham’s highways are worth £4bn, claiming they are the “council’s most valuable asset, relied upon by the majority of Wokingham’s residents and businesses on a daily basis.”

The report highlighted that the new deal should help the council to deliver better customer service and improve communication regarding ongoing highways work.

Until last week the company awarded the contract had been a closely guarded secret.

But the council agreed to approving the contracts at a full council meeting last month, despite the three Labour councillors Andy Croy, Carl Doran and Rachel Burgess abstaining in the vote.

Councillor Andy Croy told the News that after having seen some of the confidential information detailed in the contracts,  "we did not feel it appropriate to give our unqualified support to the awarding of the contract."

Oppositon leader and Liberal Democrats councillor Lindsay Ferris said: ""I can confirm that the Liberal Democrat Group is satisfied that all proper procedures were put in place during the tendering process and that we support the award of these contracts."