Herefordshire needs to avoid repeating past mistakes when it starts new contracts to manage the county’s roads and public spaces, leaders have been told.

“We need to be very careful otherwise we will be in the same position we were in with the last three contractors,” long-serving Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Terry James warned a meeting of Herefordshire Council’s ruling cabinet.

The Conservative-run council announced in April it would end its current all-encompassing public realm contract with Balfour Beatty Living Spaces in May 2026.


But Coun James said such multinational companies “are too large and too remote, they have enormous overheads, they cannot manage on a local basis, and the public sector gets in a terrible mess taking them on”.

He claimed that in Herefordshire, “contractors have been able to write their own cheques”, with the council “unaware of or unable to control the waste”.

“These services must be delivered by local companies and workers with local knowledge, who could do parts of this contract at a far more competitive rate,” he said.

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For the Greens, Coun Stef Simmons welcomed moves to bring back in-house some functions such as the county’s 12 “locality stewards” who monitor roads and public space works, but said these must be properly resourced.

Also welcoming such moves, True Independents group leader Clare Davies said: “Residents continually complain that there will be men sitting in a lorry with only one person digging.”

Cabinet member for transport Coun Philip Price said he “wouldn’t disagree” with some of the group leaders’ points, but insisted: “We will now no longer be in a place where the contractor marks their own homework.”


The services to be re-tendered for range from winter road treatment and pothole fixing, to street cleaning and lighting, to drainage maintenance and civil emergencies responses.

The cabinet approved the approach that the council will now take to choosing contractors, leading to new arrangements being agreed from early next year.

Council leader Coun Jonathan Lester said: “Early engagement with the market is intended to attract a wide range of providers able to deliver the work for the council.”