Norfolk highways boss heading off on road to retirement

The new Norwich Bus station in Surrey Street will open on Tuesday.John Joyce, head of asset and netw

The new Norwich Bus station in Surrey Street will open on Tuesday.John Joyce, head of asset and network management for Norfolk County Council, pictured at the stationPhoto: Adrian JuddCopy: For: EDP pics © 2005(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2004

A council highways boss who came up through the ranks after starting out building bypasses is to retire.

A council highways boss who came up through the ranks after starting out building bypasses is to retire.

Coltishall-born John Joyce first walked through the doors of Norfolk County Council in 1971 shortly after completing his A-levels and secured a civil engineers sponsorship from the authority to go to university.

And the 60 year old is to leave next Tuesday after 40 years' service, with an aim to relax, travel around Norfolk, watch Norwich City and potentially seek voluntary work.

Mr Joyce, the council's assistant director of highways, who grew up in Little Plumstead, said: 'When I was doing my A-levels the careers people asked what I wanted to do.


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'As a young man I had the notion that I wanted to influence the world I was living in, not just sitting at a desk.'

The father of two, and also a step-father of two, spent time at City University in London before successfully applying to become a graduate trainee in 1976.

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His early work included building and designing bypasses, and he later took a position to lead development of the Attleborough bypass.

After realising there was 'more to the world than bypasses', Mr Joyce moved to Hampshire.

Here he gained an insight into how to deal with the day-to-day maintenance of the highway network, such as resurfacing and pothole repairs. He moved back to Norfolk after a couple of years and became involved with the reorganisation of the county council's highways teams. A roadworker organisation was also established as an internal contractor, which had to compete with outside contractors to secure deals.

Mr Joyce had a team of 320 roadworkers and 50 staff members. The company's annual turnover was said to be about £20m. But the former Thorpe Grammar School pupil said he found the work of highways during this period all-consuming.

He said: 'I have always thought highways is one of the few services the county council delivers that everyone depends on throughout their life.

'Everyone uses them, everyone relies on them and everyone has an opinion on them.'

From 1992, Mr Joyce spent time away from highways which included three years as part of chief executive Barry Capon's policy unit. He returned to highways work in 2002.

Mr Joyce, of Mulbarton, said there were about 400 people in the department, which spends about £50m to £60m a year compared to the extra staff and £100m budget of previous years. He said the loss of 75 jobs in 2011 had been 'extremely painful and very uncomfortable personally and professionally' as good people were let go, but added work to keep costs down had been rigorous.

Mr Joyce said: 'I think we've taken £8m out of highways over two to three years. Some came from having to do less, some came through efficiencies.'

Mr Joyce's wife Ann is also retiring from her job at the Department for Work and Pensions in Norwich.

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