Jobs hope for former Connaught workers

Former workers who lost their jobs when Connaught Partnerships went into administration are to be offered jobs with firms who secured short-term deals to pick up their pieces left from the collapse of that company.

More than 300 Norwich workers were made redundant in October when Connaught Partnerships - which had been picked by Norwich City Council to carry out housing repair and maintenance work for the authority - went into administration.

The council had hoped to find a way to transfer the contracts to another company, keeping on the workers, but on advice from lawyers that such a deal could be challenged in the High Courts, that rescue package had to be ditched.

Earlier this year, Morrison had challenged the award of the contract to Connaught and the city council avoided a High Court trial by reaching a financial settlement with the company. Instead the city council will have to re-tender the contracts, a process which will take at least a year and in the meantime emergency contracts have been up and running.

However, at a meeting of the council cabinet earlier this month, councillors agreed to offer short term contracts in advance of the re-tendering and yesterday revealed which companies have won which contracts.

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Services covered by the contracts include housing repairs and maintenance, voids, PVC windows and doors, electrical upgrades, and boilers and heating upgrades.

Once introduced, many of the contracts will either last for nine months or a set programme of works - such as the window replacement programme - and should be up and running by the end of this month.

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Alan Waters, cabinet member for resources, performance and shared services said: 'It's great to see that local companies are among those sharing the work within the council's housing contract - at a difficult time this is good for the local economy.

'We have an agreement with all the contractors, if they take on new employees, that a minimum of 70pc of ex-Connaught staff will be offered work.

'We're also on track with the next stage of the council's housing repairs and maintenance programme which involves exploring the options for longer term provision.

'Work has already begun on this and will run in parallel with the short term contracts to allow a smooth transition from one to the other when the time comes.'

The details of the contracts are:

Housing repairs and maintenance - Lovell Partnerships Limited.

Voids (sorting out empty council homes) - Norse Commercial Services Limited.

Windows and doors replacements - Anglian Windows Limited.

External wall insulation - Lawtech Limited.

Decent homes including disabled adaptations - Lovell.

Electrical upgrades - Lovell.

Boiler and heating upgrades (partly funded by the Homes and Communities Agency) - Seager Heating Limited.

External redecoration - MITIE Property Solutions (UK) Limited.

The city council said there were more than 30 expressions of interest for the contracts.

The Evening News reported at the start of the month how the region's firms have been left �1m out of pocket from the collapse of Connaught.

A list of creditors detailed more than 30 former Connaught suppliers and sub-contractors left with unpaid debts ranging from several hundred pounds to substantial six-figure sums.

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