Two hundred jobs to be transferred as Norwich City Council serves notice on Norse to end £6.75m contract

PUBLISHED: 07:03 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 25 September 2019

Eaton Park, one of the parks covered by the Norse Environmental Services contract. Pic: Brett Nunn.

Eaton Park, one of the parks covered by the Norse Environmental Services contract. Pic: Brett Nunn.

(c) copyright

The jobs of 200 workers who keep Norwich’s streets clean and parks in good shape are to be transferred to City Hall control.

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian BurtNorwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt

Norwich City Council has served notice that it wants to run environmental services itself, rather than contracting it out.

That contract, along with others for the maintenance of council houses and buildings and for building surveys, is outsourced to Norse Group, an arms-length company owned by Norfolk County Council.

Combined, they are worth £20m.

But in 2018, the council wrote to Norse, saying it wanted to bring them all in-house, so the council would directly employ staff and have control over services.

Norse Group managing director Dean Wetteland. Picture: Norse Commercial ServicesNorse Group managing director Dean Wetteland. Picture: Norse Commercial Services

The council hoped to do that by April this year, but negotiations between City Hall and Norse continued and it did not happen.

Yesterday, the council served 18 months' notice on Norwich Norse Environmental to end the £6.75m contract and take the service under its control by April 2021.

Council bosses said the 200 staff would be transferred over to the city council under the TUPE process, so jobs would be secure.

Officers said, if any costs are associated with terminating the contract, they would be likely to be relatively low.

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The council is likely to allow the other contracts, which expire in 2022, to reach their conclusion - and could then take those back in-house too.

Alan Waters, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said: "We have always been committed to our plans to bring back these services, as it will give use greater control and flexibility over how they are delivered.

"During the process of transfer, our priority is to limit any impact on staff and service delivery, and that means we have and will continue to take the necessary time to ensure this transition is as seamless as possible.

"We plan to adopt a phased approach to bringing back our services, which will allow us to dedicate the necessary time to each transition.

"Having fully considered all the options available, we think this is the most responsible way of carrying out this process."

Dean Wetteland, managing director of Norse Group, said: "We have met with Norwich City Council and reached agreement that services provided by Norwich Norse Environmental, such as street scene and grounds, will transfer to the city council in 18 months' time in April 2021. This is in accordance with the contractual agreement.

"We envisage the contracts we hold with the city council for housing maintenance and strategic asset management will continue to run to the end of their contractual term in 2022.

"We will work together to allow for a smooth transition of services. In the meantime, our 430 or so staff working on city council contracts will work to continue to work as usual to provide a good service for city residents.

"I have reassured our staff that the group is in successful partnerships with councils all over the country and is continuing to win orders on a range of fronts, both in Norfolk and beyond.

"We have just reported a profitable financial picture for the year 2018-19, are currently enjoying a bright year financially and have several new services coming to fruition in the coming weeks.

To put this in context, these contracts account for around 7pc of our group turnover."

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