Council bosses are planning to take back greater control of keeping Norwich tidy after two former contractors collapsed.

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Norwich City Council is investigating how to carry out £5m a year work to clean streets and maintain parks, cemeteries and open spaces from March 2013.

Five options are being considered, with the preferred one likely to see council officers manage and monitor any contract rather than giving control to a private company.

It is hoped this will avoid the same difficulties encountered when former city council contractor Fountains went into administration in January. The company, based in Whiffler Road, Mile Cross, made 153 workers redundant and left the council having to find a new firm to provide the £4.6m a year service.

Biffa was brought in at short-notice with the out-of-work staff offered jobs in the new arrangement. But the demise of Fountains came little more than a year after similar problems beset Connaught in 2010 – which increased calls for greater council control over the service.

The new proposals include the council having full control by bringing the service in-house, creating a jointly-owned company to be given the contract, known as public sector shared service, or continue using a private contractor. The authority has been recommended to choose the public sector shared service option.

Under this plan, the council would have to join with another organisation and create a limited company.

This new company, which both parties would have shares in, would be awarded the grounds maintenance contract, which would be monitored by the council.

Union officials expressed disappointment an in-house option has not been recommended.

The authority has not ruled it out, but it is likely this will not happen due to extra costs.

Kevin O’Grady, Norwich City Council Unison branch secretary, said: “What we want to see is contracts and services in the public sector.

“If it means through shared services then that’s something we would go with because it’s the next best option.”

Alan Waters, city council cabinet member for finance, pictured, said further detailed reports on the five options would be submitted to a group of councillors examining the issue, known as the contracts working party, before the plan comes before the cabinet.

He said he had also asked the officers to look into potential for a depot premises.

Mr Waters said: “Longer-term we need to think about that site and we need to therefore think we might locate a workforce to deliver some of these services for us.”

The council already owns numerous pieces of equipment, worth £484,560, including grass cutters, tractors and lawn mowers. It purchased the items to allow Biffa to carry out the work after Fountains’ collapse.

What do you think? Write to Evening News letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

7 comments

  • ingo..."Tackling filthy habits starts at school"..normal parents do this good work before kids start school...its called parenting.

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    nrg

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • My wonga's on Alan Waters Tory brethren at county hall...A google of his name on a UK government company register, has him down as a director of NPS NORWICH LIMITED, which then leads to Norse and County Hall. As of today this company has not yet filed a description of their activities.

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    nrg

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • The biggest problem is that the City cannot afford the specification that the Council desires. To do the work in-house would be a recipe for rising costs and falling standards, so working with the private sector is inevitable. Monitoring the contract tightly and ensuring that deficiencies are rectified is vital; this aspect should be done in-house and not left to the contractor to self-certify their monthly cheque.

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    JCW

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Alan Waters needs to bring this workforce back in house,to start to put back into the City a workforce that will deliver,to clear up the failings of the private sector. The council has messed with the direct labour force for years until there was nothing left giving it to private firms that that have cost the council millions of pounds (the cost a secret kept from our eyes) and left tenants waiting for repairs, open spaces that look like set aside land and still they pussyfoot around. Take back all the services and get this City back to "Norwich a fine City"

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    Rorping

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Tackling filthy habits starts at school, teaching young kids that littering their country is the lazy filthy way of their parents and that they do not have to copy it. Alan Waters was also instrumental to the out sourcing, now he is going the other way again, what a waste of good funds. party politics without a clue.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Here we go again,stop playing politics and blaming money. Think what this debacle has cost over the last 2 years. Think of the staff involved. The council has decimated an efficient workforce(CityCare) and will not admit they are to blame.

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    FIGGIS

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • JCW, I think the big problem the City cannot afford private contractors taking the work and then don,t deliver. The public were against private ent taking over the Forests as they could be lost to free access no trust there, now G4 have shown they could not deliver , nothing to do with the City council I know,but another example or two.

    Report this comment

    Rorping

    Monday, July 16, 2012

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