County drives up the private road

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SUFFOLK County Council this week began the transfer process of its highways responsibilities by inviting companies from across Europe to tender for the £40 million project.

Around 220 staff will transfer to the new provider, although the three county offices will remain under county control along with their chief officers, who will liaise between the councils and the new provider.

The move is part of the county’s move to have a single private sector company taking responsibility for highways maintenance including winter gritting.

The contract, which is due to start on April 1, 2013, moves away from the current arrangement whereby some work is done by Suffolk County Council and other work by external contract.

The council is expecting the move to save £2 million a year and for the contract to run for a minimum of five years, possibly 10.

Cllr Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for transport, said: “What is being changed is the methodology of delivering services.

“This will source wider materials, better prices and new techniques.”

Cllr McGregor said staff would automatically transfer with fully protected conditions of service remaining but said it was too early to say whether there would be any redundancies.

Vehicles would continue to be liveried to Suffolk County Council.

Cllr McGregor said the aim was to ensure the continuance and improvement of the existing service.

He said that Norfolk County Council would be joining Suffolk in outsourcing its highways work to a private company next year and would draw on Suffolk’s experience.