Contract extension at London council sparks strike plan

A decision to extend a contract for grounds maintenance at London's Bromley Council to include in-house parks management has sparked a plan for strike action.

Crystal Palace Park. Credit: FlickR/Ewan Monroe
Crystal Palace Park. Credit: FlickR/Ewan Monroe

The contract would merge the community engagement and development functions with operational delivery, delivering "a more locally focussed operation which both protects the service and delivers much-needed savings", according to the council.

The Landscape Group currently delivers grounds maintenance under a 10 year contract begun in 2008.  Under the new plan, the contract would be extended until the end of March 2019 and 30 people transferred over under TUPE rules.

Those transferred would include the head of parks and greenspace, officers in charge of development and community, biodiversity, landscape, healthy communities, partnership working and play, and rangers. 

Council documents indicate that this would add £9.7m to the value of the contract with an option to add a further £700,000 for reactive property maintenance, tipping the potential value of the whole contract over £40 million.

The contract would bring the council part-year savings of between £70,000 to £110,000 in 2015/16 and full-year savings of between 250,000 and £300,000 from 2016/17 onwards.

There would also be potential redundancy costs of between £200,000 and £300,000.

The council plans to establish a partnership board to manage the contract, comprising the assistant director of street scene and greenspace, the chief executive of TLG and managers to manage the strategic direction of the service.

Bromley Council is facing a funding shortfall of approximately £50m of its £200m revenue budget by 2018/19 and has proposed slashing £182,000 in 2015/16 and £530,000 for 2015/16 and thereafter from the street scene and green space budgets, which account for 73 per cent of spending and 21 per cent of staff in the Environment and Community Services Department.

Members of the Unite union have voted by 87 per cent to strike from just after midnight on 7 April in protest at what the union calls "a mass privatisation programme [and] cuts to pay and conditions."

Unite members are also not happy that additional services would be outsourced without the council going through a tendering process.

A spokesman for Bromley Council said: "We continue to examine every single one our services and cost pressures to find the most effective and efficient ways of delivering quality services which focus on those in the borough who need them most.
"This involves looking at every possible service delivery option that exists to ensure that we continue to provide the best value for money for Bromley taxpayers as the council has done for many years. These options include continuing to provide services in-house or to facilitate social enterprise or outsourcing.
"The fundamental starting point and fact remains that Bromley Council has to identify £50 million savings over the next four years from a net budget of around £200 million and however much anyone might wish otherwise, that unpalatable reality simply cannot be avoided or ignored."

He added: "Factually, there have not been any cuts in pay for members of staff."

Bromley Council and The Landscape Group refused to comment while the contract was in the Alcatel standstill period, as is standard practice.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

According To Dunnett ... Horticulture needed to 'colour in' green infrastructure

It's now around one year since work started on Sheffield's groundbreaking "Grey to Green" scheme, one of the largest urban green infrastructure projects in the UK.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Contracts & Tenders

Sally Drury on professional gardening

Sally Drury

A monthly checklist of things to do and watch out for to keep your garden looking its best.