Growth in Resources for the Grounds Maintenance Element of the Environmental Services Contract
Meeting: 30/11/2010 - Cabinet (Item 122)
Report of the Executive Member for the Environmental Wellbeing & Communications Portfolio (Lady Fisher).
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The Environmental Services Manager presented the report that advised Members of the additional workload within the Grounds Maintenance operation due to growth in open space land, to offer options for reacting to this growth, and to make a recommendation for action going forward.
Option 2, which was the preferred option, did come in well within the existing budget but would increase with inflation year on year.
Serco had been experiencing difficulties in providing the standard of service required by the contract, including key performance targets, as additional land added to their workload over recent years had significantly exceeded the capacity of existing resources.
Responding to the concerns, as requested by Members at the Executive Board meeting held on 15 November 2010, with regard to the difference in cost if the grass cutting regime was reduced from 3 weekly to 4/5 weekly cuts and the transfer of land adopted under S106 agreements, the Environmental Services Manager explained that the adjustment to the grass cutting regime, in cost terms, had been set out in the options listed in the report. There were savings to be had if the number of cuts were reduced. However, it was pointed out that, in the summer of this year, due to the exceptionally dry weather conditions, the number of cuts had been reduced, but in a typical growing season, reducing the number of cuts could have a negative noticeable impact on the visual amenity and customer satisfaction.
As far as the latter was concerned, the Environmental Services Manager had engaged in detailed discussions with the Development Services Manager, the S106 Officer and the Land Management Officer. All had confirmed that no formal policy was in place to transfer land adopted under S106 Agreements to Town Councils. It was understood negotiations had taken place concerning some retrospective transfers from Breckland to the Town Council with limited success and, as yet, no back-to-back transfers had been attempted.
Notwithstanding the issues with such Agreements, the Executive Member for the Environmental Wellbeing & Communications Portfolio pointed out that the Environmental Services Team had successfully managed to reduce the potential cost of the contract by 10% whilst still delivering similar outputs.
The Executive Member for the Corporate Development & Performance Portfolio was pleased to hear that negotiations had taken place with Serco and was delighted that no additional monies were being requested. He was also pleased to note that if Members were mindful to approve the preferred option, the Council’s bio-diversity schemes would be maintained.
The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman reported that he had attended a recent Parish Council meeting where the reaction of taking over land in the parish had been favourable. Referring to the S106 Agreements, he felt that a policy would need to be established as much land would be coming forward over the next 15 years.
The options available to Members were as follows:
This option would give a high level of assurance that the maintenance of public open spaces would be fully compliant with the current ... view the full minutes text for item 122