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Your questions answered

We have received a number of questions and queries from colleagues about the proposed new ways of working to deliver highways services across Derbyshire from the series of face-to-face and online briefing sessions, and the Ask Jules email service.

The comments and queries have been grouped by themes for easy reference. As the Derbyshire highways programme progresses and further questions are received, additional information will be added to this section.

Please review the information and talk to your line manager if you have any specific comments, suggestions or concerns.

How we are delivering our transformation programme

Delivering Derbyshire Highways

We have appointed a project team and have the backing of Members and our senior management team to deliver the transformation programme. We also have financial support to invest in people and the systems and technology we need.

We are committed to making sure we change how we work to deliver the quality highway services our communities expect.

Developing the proposals

The new service will be developed with colleagues who have extensive experience and expertise and who have been delivering the services to date. Our approach is to work closely with those who are best placed to share their insights about new ways of working - our highways team.

We will share the details about the new service structure with colleagues once the broad service and function specifications have been developed.

Working more effectively and efficiently

Programming highway work

Due to hyperinflation and rising costs, we have had to look very carefully at all our works, including our capital programme, to prioritise the work we can afford to do, while meeting the expectations of our members and stakeholders and the commitments we have made to local communities.

This is a complex process which we need to get right to make sure we spend money in a planned way.

We published our capital works programme in November 2022 which was approved by Cabinet, the earliest ever date we have presented this information, to help us effectively plan and schedule major works.

And, as part of this planning ahead approach, we intend to go even further by publishing a 3-year rolling programme of capital programme works.

About network management and the Highways Hub

Network management is one of 6 proposed functions within the proposed commissioning service. These include:

  • asset management
  • technical services
  • commissioning management
  • communications and engagement
  • network management
  • emergency planning

The commissioning service will prioritise works across the network, in line with the priorities of members and stakeholders, and our statutory duties, co-ordinating improvements to minimise disruption and to deliver value for money.

This service will work alongside the proposed delivery service who will be responsible for making sure all our projects and schemes are delivered on time and on budget.

The network management function will be responsible for being aware of day-to-day issues across the network, making sure that work is effectively co-ordinated and integrated, with a view to ensuring that safe, reliable journeys are available to all road users.

Further work is needed before we can decide where activities currently undertaken within the Highways Hub will best sit in the future service – in either the commissioning or delivery service.

IT and mobile networks

We recognise that it can be frustrating for inspectors and other colleagues to be unable to use a device and to record repairs due to a poor mobile network signal.

This is a challenge in a county like Derbyshire with peaks and valleys affecting network coverage. We are already working with colleagues in ICT to look at ways we can tackle this including the use of dual sim cards in devices. We are looking for volunteers to trial the sim cards.

We will be looking at how we record defects with Alloy, but coverage will never be 100% due to the geography of our county.

Gully emptying

We are trialling a new system on the A6 using sensors to alert us if drains are becoming full of water and need emptying during heavy rainfall.

This is part of the works to repair and refurbish the retaining walls between Matlock and Whatstandwell, following funding from the Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

We are using technology to streamline the ways we work to maximise efficiencies and value for money.

Alloy asset management system

Confirm will be replaced by Alloy, led by our colleagues in the Smart Asset Management team (SAMS) who are planning the implementation of this new way of working.

Confirm will work with our customer relationship system, known as Granicus, to make sure customer reported faults are automatically updated from one system to the other, reducing back office administration.

Integrating the 2 systems is a complex task and we are working hard to deliver this major project. We hope to be able to share information about the timescales to switch over to Alloy soon.

Alloy will work on both mobile and desktop to give flexibility to meet the different needs of our colleagues. 

We are aware of the separate structures asset management system (AMX) and the benefits it is bringing to the service.

We intend to create a test environment for Alloy and only once we are satisfied it will deliver business as usual for us, at no risk to the reputation of the council, we will then switch off Confirm.

Implications for the road safety team

As part of the highways transformation programme, the road safety team will join the new commissioning service, reporting to Neill Bennett, Assistant Director Highway Commissioning.

The transformation programme team is working with the road safety team to collate the existing work and functions carried out by the team. This information will be used to shape the future remit of the team, including opportunities to do things differently to deliver better outcomes for people using our highway network.

Handling public enquiries more effectively

To reduce administration for our highway inspectors, we have already streamlined the online 'Report it' enquiry forms to 15, each clearly labelled about what it can be used to report, to make sure the right form is used first time by customers.

We have also removed a number of unnecessary online reporting forms about abandoned vehicles, litter, school crossing patrols.

Further improvements will be carried out to the online reporting system as we review our processes and bring in more teams to help us answer customer queries more effectively.

The introduction of Alloy, our new asset management system, will bring additional benefits as it will link to our existing customer management system, automatically sending fault reports to relevant teams for action.

Training and procedures

We recognise that some colleagues feel that our operational procedures are not documented. We are currently recording details of all the work we do and how we do it.

This will identify any gaps or duplications in the work we do so we can develop better and more consistent ways of working and make sure colleagues receive appropriate training and support to deliver the highways service.

Recruitment, secondment and terms and conditions

Secondment opportunities for existing employees

We believe that secondments give employees the opportunity to temporarily move into new roles and develop their skills and knowledge, helping to retain staff and improve morale.

Secondments give employees opportunities to gain experience and skills in different areas of the service.

Apprenticeships and graduate entry roles

We want to increase the use of apprentices and graduates by introducing entry level roles. Apprenticeships can also help our existing staff progress or move into a different type of role.

We are developing clear career routes and better, faster recruitment processes to make sure we can appoint people more quickly to roles.

Jobs and terms and conditions

The transformation programme is not looking to reduce the number of jobs across the highway service or to make redundancies, but it will look at new ways of working which could lead to changes to job roles and duties.

There is an ongoing recruitment drive to attract more people to join the team. The capital programme will deliver around £58 million of new investment across the county's road network, one of the biggest amounts of money we've ever spent.


Contractual changes may be required if you change job roles and/or if any changes are required as a result of reviewing how we work as part of the highways transformation programme.

Recruitment and use of agency staff

We are recruiting for approximately 60 permanent staff to support our in-house team to deliver the significant work programme.

Agency staff are brought in where permanent vacancies exist or where there is a short term need to support permanent staff. Permanent staff receive a number of generous benefits including access to the local government pension scheme, generous paid annual leave, paid bank holidays, sick pay and a comprehensive wellbeing package including physio, counselling and occupational health support.

We will consider opportunities to make savings including reducing our use of agency staff.

Retirement, workforce planning and succession planning

We are working closely with colleagues in HR to implement our workforce plan which will enable us to develop, attract and keep the workforce with the capabilities we need for the future and improve our succession planning to ensure we have people with the relevant skills and capabilities before people leave or retire.

New recruitment leads are helping to promote the benefits of working for us, and have helped to simplify our recruitment process, to help us fill vacancies more quickly.

Our recruitment campaign in April 2022, helped to fill 40 vacancies - 2 out of 3 vacancies we had at the time.

New structures, recruitment, retention pay and grading

We have created a new, interim management reporting structure, launched on 1 September 2022, with 2 new services areas - commissioning and delivery.

In delivering the new highway service and functions, new structures will be implemented, and a number of existing job roles will be amended and new roles created. We will be working closely with colleagues to define the new roles, offering suitable training and support to help those who are interested in applying. All structures and roles will be created in line with established policies and procedures.

We are aware of the significant challenges facing employees including the cost of living and recruitment and retention issues. A working group has been established to look at these issues, and work continues on enhancing the benefits offer for employees. At present, we are in the process of procuring an employee benefits and discount provider and are also looking at options to extend the types of leave schemes available.

We're also considering using temporary retention payments to retain staff in roles which are difficult to recruit to.

We have also introduced new schemes to help employees pay more into their pension pot, as a part of our shared cost additional voluntary contributions scheme.

We hope to develop career graded posts for certain job roles and will look to create clearer career pathways to assist with recruitment, retention and enabling employee development.

Our terms and conditions are much more generous than other employers, including contractors and, in several recent cases, individuals have left private sector employment to join us, because of the better work-life balance and terms and conditions on offer.

Night shifts

No decisions regarding the working of night shifts have been made or if any changes to the current working patterns are needed.

If it is considered the right option to do at any time in the future, it would be a significant change to the current way of working and could affect existing terms and conditions.

This would take time to implement in accordance with our policies and procedures.


There is no overtime ban in place. Like any responsible publicly funded organisation, we have to make sure we manage our budgets carefully and ensure that all use of overtime can be justified and we can ensure that there are adequate work-life balances in place to support individuals health and wellbeing.

Personal development

My Plans

We have been supporting line managers to arrange annual My Plans reviews to ensure colleagues understand their objectives and have the opportunity to discuss their development needs.

All colleagues should have received a My Plan. If you have not, please talk to your line manager.

Training and development

We are committed to creating a professional workforce to deliver a safe, effective, efficient and innovative Highways service. We have put forward a proposal to create a dedicated training budget to our leadership team, to help us address specific training needs.

A range of existing training and development opportunities are available on Derbyshire Learning Online including apprenticeships, courses and learning opportunities.

Check the ‘Learning for all employees’ and ‘Leadership and management development opportunities’ areas for e-learning and webinars.

We will encourage shadowing and mentoring opportunities, with the agreement of local line managers, for existing staff to develop their careers. We are looking to recruit internally, using My Plans as starting point, to develop our own people to meet their aspirations.

Developing new skills for our in-house teams with our professional service partner

To help us reduce our reliance on appointing external partners to deliver major projects, we intend to appoint one professional service partner.

The partner will support our in-house staff, sharing their knowledge and upskilling our colleagues to reduce the reliance on external agency staff, increasing the skills set and knowledge of our team.

This will help to streamline how we work, reduce duplication and give us all a clearer understanding of progress on specific projects.

We expect to go out to tender to recruit a long term professional services partner in November 2022 to help provide greater opportunities to our in-house design team and provide a more effective and efficient way forward.

Professional qualifications

We want to develop a professional, skilled and qualified workforce across the highways service. This is why we recognise the importance and benefit of people undertaking professional development and experienced colleagues mentoring new starters. At the moment, the council only provides a financial contribution towards professional fees if there is a statutory requirement for the role. We will be asking for this position to be reviewed, recognising the need to balance costs with career development to help raise the level of service we provide.

Feeling valued and recognised

We are always looking at opportunities to find out if our staff feel valued and recognised, using feedback from our employees including surveys and other engagement forums. Since receiving this feedback we've established a working group to review and develop our approach to local, departmental and corporate recognition. We're also undertaking work to develop a new employee benefit scheme.

Information will be available through Our Derbyshire newsletters and through line managers as and when these additional employee benefits become available. See what employee benefits and discounts are already available to employees.


Use of personal vehicles

We understand that some colleagues are using their own personal vehicles for work purposes. Whilst this is permissible in many cases, colleagues who need a work vehicle for working on a live road should be provided with a full chapter 8 vehicle.

We will be discussing this with colleagues affected.

Rangers vs Connect vans

The Ranger 4-wheel drive vehicles are wide, making access to carry out inspections along narrow lanes very difficult. We are investigating alternative, smaller vehicles to use to help overcome this issue.

Colleagues are advised to use Connect vans with an appropriate flashing lightbar to ensure they are safe.

Working with and managing our contractors

Using contractors for traffic management services

We have no plans to externalise the highways service. We are proud of our in-house design and construction teams and the work we deliver. It helps us to provide a responsive service to our communities.

We do need to use some contractors because our in-house resource is limited and we need to deploy our limited resources in the most effective way.

We use contractors to provide temporary traffic management services across the county, for example when we need to install temporary traffic lights.

If our team were working at night to provide emergency traffic management, this would reduce the number of staff available to work the following day as they would need to rest.

These are complex issues and need careful consideration by the team.

Outsourcing and monitoring work to contractors

We are not outsourcing our construction services, but due to our limited in-house resources, we have to look at using external contractors to help us to deliver some of our work programme.

Some very specialist types of work, like street lighting, require equipment and skills that we don't have in-house and can be more effectively provided by external contractors. In addition, some types of work are more costly to be done in-house, which goes against our value for money approach. Some jobs require specialist equipment which external contractors can supply more cost effectively than if we were to hire or buy it, maintain and pay for storage for example.

We are also introducing performance indicators to monitor our contracts and in-house works, to make sure everything meets our standards and specifications. Contractors will be required to put any defects right at their expense.

We have a number of contracts in place with partner organisations across Derbyshire to help us carry out tasks on our behalf. These include the implementation of our street lighting LED programme, road resurfacing and landslip projects where external partners are able to support us with specialist plant, labour and materials that we don't readily have.

We intend to look at ways to monitor these contracts to ensure work is carried out to the required standards and frequency.

Monitoring work by our contractors

Works undertaken by external contractors are monitored and supervised by our resources. All works delivered by external providers and the in-house teams will be monitored and tested to ensure work is carried out to the required standards and frequency.

Surface dressing and making good any defects

Some comments were made about the work done by Eurovia as part of last year's surface dressing programme.

These works were managed and supervised by our colleagues, but we can confirm that Eurovia were instructed to make good and repair any sites which did not meet our standards. This work was carried out at cost to Eurovia and not us.

Capital works team

We will continue to undertake capital works, but these have become our business as usual work and are not the large bypasses we used to deliver. We may want to deliver this in a different way going forward.

Future of the highways depots

A review of all our depots is underway to create a long-term plan for their future. The review is managed by our colleagues in property services and we are working closely with them. This is linked to the wider review of all our properties and we will consider any opportunities to reduce our costs by moving away from sites we pay to lease, to sites we own outright.

In the short term, we are looking at some opportunities to create better working environments at our existing sites.

Alongside other depot buildings, the training centre and the laboratory are 2 buildings on our list to improve.

If you have any suggestions and ideas to help us improve our depots, including mess areas and restroom facilities, please talk to your line manager.

Reducing our carbon emissions and environmentally friendly ways of working

Reducing street lighting costs and carbon emissions

With energy costs rising, we are looking at ways to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

We have already reduced lighting levels by converting our lights to LED and introducing dimming where it is safe to do so. Reviews are being undertaken to investigate what more we might be able to do.

Carbon neutral target and carbon reduction plans

Working with our climate change team, we intend to develop best practice standards to draw up carbon footprint targets, to help us reduce carbon emissions, through the use of different materials and ways of working.

As part of our carbon reduction plans, we are using your feedback to review the following points raised:

  • reuse and recycle road materials - we are looking at ways to collect waste materials to reuse in our projects and potential income opportunities for us
  • improving procedures to fill pothole repairs first time, every time, tackling any underlying causes, to avoid frequent return visits to carry out repairs
  • improving the technology inspectors and repair teams use to easily identify potholes on site as well as those nearby, to maximise site visits by fixing as many potholes as we can in one visit
  • purchasing electric vehicles and larger hydrogen powered vehicles
  • changing how we procure goods and services to select local suppliers to reduce the distance goods have to travel, for example concrete

We recognise that there are some concerns about our use of vehicle trackers. Like other public and private sector businesses, the trackers help us to optimise vehicle use to ensure we are making the best use of all vehicles. They also provide us with essential health and safety knowledge to make sure all colleagues are safe and well by providing us with details of where our workforce is in case they need any help or assistance.

We understand that some colleagues have concerns about the types of vehicles we have available and loading limits which can mean that occasionally 2 trips have to be made where one larger vehicle would be more appropriate. We will look at options to help overcome this unnecessary issue.

Procurement and the way we purchase services

Buying goods and services

We will be looking at ways to use local suppliers more when we tender for goods and services and to support local businesses which should also help to reduce our carbon footprint. This will be implemented where value for money demonstrates clear benefits.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

We understand that some colleagues feel the PPE that has been issued has not been appropriate or of suitable quality.

We intend to work with colleagues to make sure we specify the right materials, in any future contracts.

Working with private landowners

Tree and shrub maintenance

Trees on private land are often overgrown and can obscure or damage our infrastructure, for example road signs and traffic lights.

We will work with colleagues to identify these locations and write to landowners to take appropriate action to protect our equipment and help keep our network in a good condition.