Martin Duffy to be Chair of North Yorkshire Highways

Martin Duffy has been announced as Chair of NY Highways, the company created by North Yorkshire County Council to give greater flexibility to its highway maintenance delivery.

Mr Duffy brings with him 40 years’ experience in the industry. He started his career in the highways sector in local government in the 1980s. During the past 20 years, he has held high-profile roles in the private sector, including partner in a global design consultancy, director of Keir Highways and, more recently, joint owner of his own consultancy, D2M2. Since 2020, he has been chief executive of the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG), bringing together local highway authorities to share innovation and best practice.

His wide-ranging role as chair of NY Highways will see him supporting and challenging the company and working with the board to set its policy and goals and to ensure it runs effectively and efficiently. Mr Duffy will use his experience to act as an ambassador for NY Highways, drawing on connections built up in the industry and government over the course of his career.

NY Highways is newly established by the County Council to provide highway maintenance services. These were previously run through a private sector contract, which has delivered significant improvements to the condition of the highways network, provided essential winter maintenance and an effective response to emergencies. However, an assessment of future service challenges concluded that the preferred option was a Teckal company. This will operate from June.

Mr Duffy said: “I feel honoured and proud to have been given this appointment. Who wouldn’t want to be chairman of North Yorkshire Highways? One of the things that attracted me to the role is that I believe I can make a real difference here.”

He has previous experience with a Teckal company, having been involved in the business case for the first one in the UK for Cornwall Council. He has worked around the world and while a partner in Buro Happold Ltd was involved in this country in projects including the Arsenal football stadium, the Olympic Park and the Millennium Dome.

“I am really excited about getting my teeth stuck into this and starting to get the message out there about North Yorkshire Highways,” he added. “I will be doing my very best to make sure the market knows exactly what we are doing and I am very proud to be able to play my part in it.

“Creating this Teckal and having local government officers deliver that service is absolutely on the money. I think other local authorities will find it easier to use our service, which is public sector-based. But we have to get our foundations right. We have to be competitive, we have to do a job as good as anyone in the private sector could deliver. I am confident we can position North Yorkshire Highways as a credible player across the public and private sector.”

Karl Battersby, Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services, said: “Martin brings a wealth of experience to the role. We are pleased to have him join us at the start of an exciting new chapter for our highways services in North Yorkshire.

“What we are doing is unique. No other highways Teckal business has been created after highways services were outsourced by a council. We are attracting attention from national professional bodies, to see how this can be done successfully. What we achieve can become a template for other local authorities.”

Mr Duffy’s role will include helping to ensure a seamless transition to the new company in summer and consolidating a firm operating base from which to grow, creating greater investment in the residents, businesses and communities of North Yorkshire.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “Having our own company gives us greater control and flexibility over our highways service delivery, while removing the contractual constraints that exist with the current arrangements.

“Many members of the highways team live in North Yorkshire. They are passionate about their communities and take pride in delivering services that are used by their friends and families. We believe the new company will ensure we get the most benefit from that local pride and passion.”

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