Deal means 150 former Norwich Fountains workers will be offered new jobs

Workers made redundant because of the collapse of Norwich City Council contractors Fountains are all to be offered new jobs, after a fresh deal was sealed by council bosses.

More than 150 Norwich workers who lost their jobs when the Whiffler Road-based firm went into administration in January will be offered the chance to work for the company taking over street cleaning and grounds maintenance work.

Council leaders announced the deal today, which will see contractor Biffa take over the contract for one year, while the council continues to make arrangements for the longer term provision of the contract.

Work included within the one-year contract covers street cleaning, tree management and grounds maintenance of parks, cemeteries and open spaces in the city.

And that means all the workers who were made redundant by the administrators after Fountains collapsed on January 23 will have the offer of a job with Biffa, should they choose to take it up.

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Alan Waters, deputy leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'This news will no doubt come as a great relief to all the ex-Fountains workers who were made redundant.

'Make no mistake, since January, a dedicated team of people at the city council have worked tirelessly towards brokering a deal to offer the entire workforce a future while we follow procedures to retender these contracts.'

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Brenda Arthur, leader of the council, added: 'I'm absolutely delighted that everyone's hard work has paid off and I am grateful to Biffa for offering a future opportunity to ex-Fountains workers to deliver all the key services that Norwich residents rely on us to provide.'

The council says it now needs to get the workforce mobilised and ensure they have the equipment needed to deliver the services, which it is estimated will take about a month.

Roger Edwards, managing director of Biffa Municipal Ltd, said: 'We are delighted to be expanding our portfolio of services with Norwich City Council during what has been a very difficult period, especially for the affected staff.

'We are pleased to be able to offer those staff the chance to get back to work and to deliver the high level of service that the residents of Norwich rightly expect.'

Trade union UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians), which has been campaigning and working with the council to ensure the workers were offered their jobs back, welcomed the news.

A spokesman said, under the terms of the deal, the workers will be offered contracts broadly in line with their previous terms and conditions.

Core areas such as wage rates, holidays and sickness payments will remain unchanged and the workers will remain part of the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Brian Rye, regional secretary for UCATT's eastern region, said: 'I am very pleased by this decision, which is in the best interests of the local community, the council and the workers. It has been achieved through long and detailed negotiations. It is now essential that the workers get back to work as soon as possible.'

However, due to the workers being made redundant in January, UCATT will be filing employment tribunal cases for a failure to inform and consult.

Redundancy pay and any lost earnings prior to January 23 for the affected workers are being handled by the Redundancy Payments Office and these claims have already been submitted.

Mr Rye, added: 'These workers have experienced a highly stressful time over recent weeks. They lost their jobs through absolutely no fault of their own and UCATT will do everything it can to ensure that they receive what they are entitled to.'

Biffa will also continue to deliver the waste and recycling contract, which was previously sub-contracted to Biffa by Fountains.

That �3.3m per year contract will continue as before, with no disruption to services for residents.

It will run for the remaining five years of a seven year contract. Around 60 people are already employed to do that work.

As reported in the Evening News, BDO, the administrators for Fountains, had not been able to sell the �4.6m contract for street cleaning and maintenance work, after companies which showed an interest said it was loss making.

• What do you think? Are you a former Fountains worker with a view on the news? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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