We recently reported that we had won three new schemes in Wrexham, including a new external improvement project arising from Wrexham County Borough Council’s Environmental Works Framework. Those improvements are now well under way, with staff on site and many preparatory works having been completed.
The overall scheme involves making environmental improvements to 420 properties in the Plas Madoc area, where SBS has previously completed a number of roofing and external insulation schemes. In the first phase of these environmental works, SBS staff are making improvements to approximately 90 properties.
Activities include the renewal of damaged fencing, the installation of new metal fencing, the replacement of concrete paths and drainage works. The scheme also includes tarmac works, brickwork and general groundworks. Lot 2 will comprise works linked to the repair and renewal of garden boundaries, particularly retaining walls.
We won the tender on the basis of price and quality, and the scheme as a whole is expected to last approximately two years.
SBS managers began by holding a series of meetings with the client and key supply chain partners to agree schedules and to identify ways of delivering added social value. Part of this has involved appointing a local resident to work as tenant liaison officer for the scheme. We are also working with local suppliers and subcontractors to maximise the use of local labour. This has already resulted in five additional local appointments. We have also taken on an apprentice who is working three days a week on site, with two further days spent studying at a local college.
Liaison with Utility Companies
A notable feature of this scheme has been the effectiveness of communications with other agencies. A short time into the project, SBS’s Project Manager Andy Roberts noticed that utility company operatives were working in the same area. Being keen to avoid wasted effort and undue resident disruption, he called a meeting with utility company representatives so that all parties could share information and schedule their work intelligently.
“Good co-ordination is really important, particularly from the perspective of local residents,” notes Andy. “We’ve all read and heard about projects where paths or roadways are repeatedly taken up and repaired because different contractors have failed to communicate, but we were determined that this wouldn’t happen here.
“By setting up channels for sharing information and schedules, we were able to avoid a lot of wasted effort. We recognised that this might mean changes to the original delivery plans, but everyone could see that it would ultimately save cost, effort and disruption to residents’ lives.”
As a result of liaising with the utility companies, staff have been able to mark pipes, cables and other services on street and garden plans, which means that on-site operatives can avoid potential problems and avoid creating problems for other agencies. For example, many of the garden improvements require laying concrete. Good communication has enabled SBS staff to do this in a way that means the work only has to be done once, rather than requiring re-excavation to gain access to gas, electricity and telephone cables.
Work is ongoing but staff have already received very positive feedback from residents.