LEADERS of a council responsible for nearly 6,000 miles of roads have pledged benefits for taxpayers after approving a move to return highways maintenance to an in-house responsibility.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive stressed that instead of reverting to the “Leviathan” in-house council roads team of the past, the authority would create a much more streamlined venture that would add value and produce returns for the taxpayer.

Councillor Don Mackenzie said the proposal represented a marked departure for a public-facing high-profile service responsible for the maintenance of 6,000 miles of roads, 3,500 miles of footpaths, 1,700 bridges and 50,000 street lights, so it was crucial to “get it right for the sake of the taxpayer”.

He said increasing the flexibility of the complex service would bring “major advantages to North Yorkshire taxpayers”.

Councillor Mackenzie said: “If you had asked me ten years ago if I would consider bringing in-house this sort of contract I would have had hesitations. Today I no longer have those hesitations, in fact I’m convinced it’s worth approving.”

Staff employed by Ringway, which will continue its highways maintenance work for the council until 2021, will transfer to the new company under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations.