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Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department ensures value for money when work for hedge-cutting and fence maintenance on motorways is contracted out; who inspects the standard of work carried out on fence maintenance and hedge-cutting on motorways; and what measures are taken to ensure that hedge-cutting and fence maintenance on motorways is conducted to pre-set standards and budgeted costs. (117640)

All motorway maintenance contracts are awarded by competitive tender to contractors whose staff hold the relevant safety, quality and environmental accreditations. Most contracts include an annual lump sum which is designed to cover minor maintenance work such as hedge-cutting and fence repairs. Under some older contracts fence and hedge maintenance is procured by issuing works packages of varying sizes. The Highways Agency has specific standards for landscaping work of this type to which its agents, who manage the contract, are expected to conform. In addition, Highways Agency staff carry out periodic inspections to check the general condition of the network, where any problems with the standard of fence and hedge maintenance would be identified.