Highways staff transferred in depot change

PART of Scarborough’s Dean Road Depot will be rented to North Yorkshire County Council until a new depot has been built once an existing highways contract is transferred at the end of the month.

And staff currently employed by Scarborough Council will transfer to the county council with new contracts agreed under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations.

Members of Scarborough Council’s Service Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard that the new depot will be built on Scarborough Business Park.

The move is necessary because an agreement – which dates back to 1975 – between the borough council and the Highways Agency is about to end with the county council taking over responsibility at the end of the month.

John Riby, Scarborough Council’s head of technical services, said the end of the contract, which affected 40 members of staff, was initially requested in 2008 and it had taken three years to finalise.

He said: “All of the staff involved have had a reasonable conclusion to their position. All are transferred to the county council.”

Mr Riby added that communication with affected staff had been a “cornerstone” of the process and, as well as keeping staff informed, communication had also included trade unions.

He said that the borough council had been able to charge almost £250,000 to the county council for existing highways vehicles. He said: “There will be new depot on the business park but progress has gone slower than expected. It should be ready by the end of the year.”

He said that an agreement had been reached to rent part of the depot in Dean Road to the county council in the short term.

In Mr Riby’s report, which was presented at the meeting, he said that responsibility for horticultural work on highway lands would continue to be carried out by staff from the borough council’s Parks and Countryside Unit – a role they have carried out since 1975.

In the report he said: “In terms of the agency area the work involves grass cutting, aboricultural work to highway trees and path weedspraying.

“The county council has expressed its satisfaction about the previous years’ work and wish it to continue on an annual basis. Terms and conditions have therefore been agreed for this to happen.”

At the meeting Mr Riby said he was pleased with the outcome because floral displays would be retained and not grassed over.

He also advised councillors that road improvements would be given a lower priority than road maintenance and road management.