Proposals to ensure a highways service that is fit for the future are to be considered by England’s largest council next week (April 16th).
North Yorkshire’s 5,750 miles of roads, stretch from Scarborough to Bentham and Teesside to south of the M62. Laid end to end, they would reach India and with the current contracts nearing completion, the council is looking to transform the way it delivers highways services to ensure that it can face the challenges that lie ahead whilst ensuring that service levels are maintained.
North Yorkshire County Council currently delivers its highways service via contracts with its maintenance contractor, Ringway and professional services consultant, WSP which will be coming to an end in 2021 and 2020 respectively. Through these arrangements the authority has delivered significant improvements to the condition of its highways network, provided essential winter maintenance services as well as ensuring an effective response to emergencies such as flooding.
An assessment of future service challenges has concluded that the preferred future option is a ‘Teckal’ company for the delivery of the operational highway maintenance services along with the appointment of a single consultant for the provision of the professional service requirements. Together these contracts are currently worth in the region of £50 million a year.
The ‘Teckal’ company would be wholly owned by the council which would ensure a local focus, but companies like this can also operate commercially – with the potential to generate some income in the future.
Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “It’s a model which would allow us greater control and flexibility over our highways service delivery, while removing the contractual constraints that exist with the current arrangements. Through more direct accountability for the works on the ground we could deliver a ‘right first time’ service with the customer continuing to be at the heart of everything that we do.
“A very large proportion of the highways team live in North Yorkshire, they are passionate about their communities and take pride in delivering services which are used by their own friends and families. We believe that the proposed delivery model will ensure that we get the maximum benefit from that local pride and passion.
“While it’s not expected that a new company would deliver work for external customers during the first years of operation it is important we are innovative and consider the strongest options for improving services that also represent best value all round.”
If the executive members agree the new ‘Teckal’ model on April 16th eligible staff currently employed by Ringway in the provision of highway services would be subject to a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE) transfer to the new company. TUPE would also apply to staff employed by WSP should a new consultant be appointed for the delivery of the professional services.
The new company would need to be ready to deliver services from 1st April 2021, subject to confirmation that the current contract completes on 31st March 2021.