WORK to transfer housing repairs, street cleaning and grass cutting services to a new company owned by Harlow Council is now back underway.
A report agreed by Cabinet on 17 September 2015 to transfer services which are currently operated by Kier Harlow Ltd to a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC) in 2017 was called-in for scrutiny and considered by a Call-In Sub-Committee on Wednesday night (7 October 2015). The Sub-Committee decided not to take any further action so work will now restart on implementing the Cabinet’s original decision.
The current contract for the provision of services by Kier Harlow Ltd expires on 31 January 2017. The Council entered into a joint venture partnership with Kier Support Services (now called Kier Services) in February 2007 which resulted in the formation of Kier Harlow Ltd.
The Joint Venture Company (JVCo) provides a range of front-line services including housing repairs and maintenance, repairs to Council buildings, street cleaning, grass cutting, pest control, stray dog collection, repairs and maintenance to drainage, gullies and highways owned by Harlow Council.
An options appraisal was carried out by the Council including independent reports by consultants which have all been taken into account as part of looking at the best way to providing these services.
All staff and assets will transfer to the LATC with the new company providing services from 1 February 2017. The independent appraisal found that this represents the best value for money and is the cheapest option, while maintaining the quality of services. The cost of the services will be funded within existing budgets at no extra cost to Council Taxpayers, Council tenants and Council leaseholders.
A report on the setting up and governance arrangements for the Local Authority Trading Company is expected to be considered by Cabinet in November 2015.
Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “Serious consideration has been given to this issue looking at all the options on how we can provide these services and provide the best value for money for our residents.
“Transferring services to a Council-owned company gives us the flexibility to bring services back under our control while operating commercially. This is about making sure front-line services like cleaning the streets, cutting the grass and repairing and maintaining houses are provided well, while our residents get value for money. We also need to be in a position and have the flexibility to meet the financial uncertainties we face in future rather than being tied to a long-term financial contract.”
“The trading company option does also give us potential to continue benefiting from profit payments. Under this business model the Council would keep all profits, rather than the majority going to a commercial partner, which would help towards supporting other Council services or improving services.”
“Kier Harlow Ltd has been an important partner for the Council and it has made significant progress in the modernisation of work processes, investment in staff training and cultural change since 2007. This is very much something we want to build on and will continue to work closely with Kier Services Ltd leading up to the transfer of services and staff in 2017.”
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