THOUSANDS of potholes across North Yorkshire could be filled more quickly than expected through a “one-off” project.

North Yorkshire County Council says it has made some budget savings and may devote an extra £2 million towards fixing damaged roads in the region.

The idea has been floated in a report on the area’s economic performance, which was due to be discussed by the council’s executive today.

The officers said that if £2 million was provided for road repairs on top of existing maintenance budgets, 3,000 small potholes and 550 larger defects could be mended.

They said highways’ contractor Ringway would use local staff for the extra work and provide two additional apprenticeships, with jobs on offer after two years. Materials would be sourced from North Yorkshire quarries where possible.

The authority will also consider allocating £400,000 towards opening up 90 more apprenticeship posts for young people in an attempt to cut unemployment figures which are now almost as high as they were at the height of the recession.

In February, 3,095 people aged between 18 and 24 were claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in North Yorkshire – 375 more than the year before – with the total number of claimants having risen from 9,996 to 10,856.

The report by business and environmental services corporate director David Bowe, corporate development officer Jonathan Spencer and assistant chief executives Justine Brooksbank and Gary Fielding said all the region’s districts, apart from Ryedale, have seen increased unemployment in the last year.

They said the council was already making a “significant contribution” to boosting the economy, but added: “There may be scope to do more as a result of the council’s strong performance in terms of delivering against its savings programmes.

“Some savings have been made earlier than planned and provide a one-off cash opportunity.”

The wider apprenticeship scheme could see young people given opportunities for at least a year in areas such as libraries, outdoor education facilities, adult social care and with the council’s contractors.

The report said that, in February, 462 people in North Yorkshire aged between 16 and 18 were not in education, employment or training, and the status of 546 more was unknown.