Angus Council roadworkers could be heading from Arbroath to Ardnamurchan and Kirriemuir to Kirkwall under an innovative new plan to combine the talent pool of eight local authority areas.
The council is considering joining forces with Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray, Orkney Islands and the Western Isles to set up a body called the Northern Roads Collaboration Joint Committee.
It would have the delegated powers to potentially share staff and form a centre for training excellence to protect a “key frontline service”.
A meeting of the full Angus Council on Thursday will be asked to grant legal power to agree the committee’s governance and administration, with the new entity set to start work by the end of the year.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to lead the group in its first year if all eight authorities agree the case by winter.
Angus Council head of technical and property services Ian Cochrane’s report states that discussions have taken place over roads service collaboration since 2014.
“Scotland has an ageing population and, by extension, an ageing workforce,” he comments.
“This is a recognised issue within the demographic of road services professionals.
“This, coupled with a reduced workforce pool of specialised skills and difficulties in succession planning, means that it is necessary to address workforce planning strategies now to provide a resilient workforce in the future.
“There is a need to look at opportunities to pool resources, up-skill staff, encourage new people to work in this service area, and increase local employment opportunities at all levels as part of future collaborative work.
“The ability of local authorities to work together is considered essential, not only to deliver long term efficiencies, but to provide resilience in this key frontline service for Scotland’s communities.”
Each council would make a contribution of funding, staff, equipment or property to take part in any project, which would be signed off by the local authority.
Four “activities” have already been identified for joint working:
- Ports/harbours and marine opportunities – five broad areas in the ports/harbours and marine sector where collaboration has “the opportunity to bring cashable savings and also to share expertise and resource.”
- Workforce – the potential sharing of front-line workforce but “could equally apply to specialist technical staff functions such as design of structures, site supervision or traffic engineering.”
- Road signs – an extension of collaboration on design and fabrication of road signs for planned and emergency use.
- Training – sharing of training requirements and resources, procurement and delivery of joint training opportunities, potentially as a centre of excellence for training and cross border health and safety collaboration, ensuring that a uniform and high level of skill is provided and maintained.
The report states Angus Council’s broad working arrangement with Tayside Contracts will not be affected by the move.