Viewpoint: Partnership - the road ahead for highways


Norse Highways is a partnership between Norfolk County Council and the UK’s leading council-owned company, Norse Group, which is delivering both growth and efficiencies under a flexible system. 

Operations director Jason Glasspoole looks at the benefits of such partnership arrangements for the future of the sector.

Having previously worked in numerous client and operational roles within the highways service at Norfolk CC, I know first-hand what it is like to run highways services under both local authority and commercial partnership models.

The highway network is fundamental to an area’s commercial and social infrastructure, providing vital links that help keep local authority environs functioning efficiently. Effective road maintenance and prompt repairs are therefore at the forefront of council agendas.

However, like most local authority departments, the demand for services is increasing, as are public expectations. As such, highways operations are looking for innovative solutions to deliver more, using a similar level of resources while retaining a high standard of customer satisfaction.

Norfolk CC saw in the Norse model the opportunity for highways operations to grow in terms of commercial opportunities, bringing efficiency savings and providing access to commercially-based support and central services.

The model also demonstrates one of Norse' fundamental principles that underpin all its local authority partnerships - namely a clear understanding of both client and local member needs.

Operational benefits

When it comes to operational management, the partnership provides clear advantages in a number of areas.

Under Norse, team managers have a highly focused approach. They prepare and report on comprehensive P&L accounts for each business area, with internal reporting up to commercial director level.

Managers also have dedicated finance business partners to help ensure figures are handled and communicated in greater detail.

We are implementing a bespoke planning, scheduling and job costing system, developed by Norse in conjunction with a specialist software provider, that will interface with the county council’s highways management system. This will be a major step in better understanding true costs within highways operations as well as contributing to operational efficiencies and financial savings.

Norse Highways is agile, by which I mean we have the flexibility to change our delivery model and priorities to suit the network; or to change work specifications without the need to vary charges. It’s about collaboration as opposed to the rigidity of a traditional client/contractor model.

This agility was clearly highlighted during the pandemic. The pressures caused by the pandemic, resourcing and decision-making were dealt with as one challenge, rather than a client and contractor having three different issues to resolve. Operating under HSE-approved, COVID-safe working arrangements we were able to maintain the winter service in tough circumstances.

We also now have access to a wider supplier market via Norse’s commercial procurement department. This enables us to bring in supplementary resources to respond to additional government funding or, with small contracts, to go to the market without the restriction of working solely with framework suppliers.

Making progress

Over two years into the new partnership, and despite the pandemic, we have already seen financial performance targets exceeded and KPI targets met. Performance and response times have, by common agreement, improved post-transfer.

Our council partners acknowledge that the Norse Highways model provides comprehensive, cost-effective and flexible delivery across a comprehensive range of highway services while ensuring the council’s continued control through the governance structure that comes from the joint venture arrangement. The council has board representation, which brings direct influence over service delivery.

Norse’s vast sector experience has played a major role in its success. Norse enjoys a strong financial pedigree, and a proven track record of providing high-quality, effective services underpinned with valuable efficiencies that don’t compromise performance levels. It also provides local authorities with the assurance of long-term service delivery.

Grahame Bygrave, Norfolk’s director of highways and waste, said: 'I can safely say that in the county council’s experience, Norse Highways are trusted partners on the road to the reliable management of highways and are always ready to flexibly respond to challenges as they arise.'

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue


  • Exclusive: M25 delays data doesn't add up
  • Autonomous vehicles: Life after the hype
View the latest issue

Highways jobs

Recycling Centre Site Operatives

Up to £23344 per annum + Per Annum, Pro Rata if part time
Recycling Centre Site OperativesPermanent, Full Time£23,344 per annum (pro-rata for part time roles)Location
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highway Asset and Development Manager

Grade N Scp 50 £59,031 to Scp 53 £62,076, plus car allowance
To be responsible for leading, developing and delivering an effective, efficient and safe Highway Asset Management Service Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Bolton Council

Streetworks Compliance Officer

£33,945 - £34,834
This is an exciting opportunity to join a new Streetworks Team Cumbria
Recruiter: Westmorland and Furness Council

Administration Assistant

£24,294 – 25,979 pro rata
We have an opportunity for an enthusiastic and capable person. Accrington, Lancashire
Recruiter: Hyndburn Borough Council

Mechanic (LCV/LGV)

£32,076 - £33,945 Plus Tool Allowance
The successful applicant will inspect, service and repair a variety of vehicles (LCV/LGV) Accrington, Lancashire
Recruiter: Hyndburn Borough Council

Contract Officer BDR

Band H - Band J £33,024 - £43,421 (pay award pending)
We are looking for an enthusiastic, talented, motivated, and ambitious person to become the BDR Contract Officer. Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Principal Transport Officer

£63,112 per annum
leading the capital’s largest new regeneration project. Brent Civic Centre (32 Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ).
Recruiter: Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

Highway Condition & Safety Inspection Officer - CMB982e

Grade 10, £33,945- £34,834 per annum
To undertake regular highways safety and condition inspections of the highways network Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumberland Council

Director of Open Spaces, Leisure & Culture

up to £133,569
Enfield is home to an increasingly diverse population we are investing in our places and people Enfield (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Enfield London Borough Council

Director of Economy, Transport and Planning

Circa £140,000
Instantly recognised for our maritime heritage and the UK’s only Island city. Portsmouth, Hampshire
Recruiter: Portsmouth City Council

Bicester Garden Town Programme Manager

Grade M
Cherwell District Council
Recruiter: Cherwell District Council

Mechanical Engineer

£36,648 - £39,186 (pay award pending)
You will be required to maintain effective liaison with other professionals and key stakeholders Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Driver - Northallerton - (IPT234)

£23,893 to £25,119 per annum pro rata
We also undertake registered Local Bus Services (transporting the public) and community transport journeys. Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire Council

Senior Fleet Compliance Assistant

£26,873-£29,269 per annum
We’re looking for a Senior Fleet Compliance Assistant to join our Fleet Management Team. Skipton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire Council

Senior Officer (Traffic and Road Safety) OCC615318

£43,421 - £46,464 per annum
Please note we are actively looking at our ways of working using everything we have learnt and heard from our employees Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recruiter: Oxfordshire County Council

Senior Officer (Traffic Control) OCC613685

£35,745 - £38,223 per annum
You will take a lead role in creating and implementing traffic signal and information strategies Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recruiter: Oxfordshire County Council

Officer Traffic Control Centre OCC609561

£29,269 - £32,076 per annum
This role in our team supports the movement of traffic across Oxfordshire by responding to both planned and unplanned events. Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recruiter: Oxfordshire County Council

Programme Control Officer

£35,745 - £36,648
The ideal candidate will have experience of project or programme management techniques and methodologies. Cumbria / Various
Recruiter: Cumberland Council

Senior NEC4 Contract Supervisor CMB1000e

£44,428 – £45,441
Are you an experienced NEC4 Supervisor? Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumberland Council

Major Projects NEC4 Senior SupervisorCMB999e

£53,775 – £55,963
Are you a knowledgeable or accredited NEC4 Supervisor? Cumbria
Recruiter: Cumberland Council

Highways Presents


Latest Video