CSR analysis - Contracting

Positive outlook as opportunities are created

For grounds care contractors, the Government's spending review was seen as the dawn of a new age. Not only will it offer them a chance to use their expertise and drum up new business, but for some it was also seen as a chance to restructure the industry.

Tony Hewitt, chairman of Parkway Holdings, which owns grounds maintenance firm Glendale, said: "This is not a short-term measure. We will need a strategic review of all departments. We will have to work hand in hand with public bodies." He envisaged new methods of procurement - "the procurement process is currently very arduous and expensive" - and even a transfer of assets.

In future, companies might take over parks, finding uses for underutilised buildings such as changing rooms or old sheds or creating new revenue streams by exploiting public golf courses or renting out parks to circuses and funfairs.

He explained: "We have access to funds from the financial markets. We need imagination and good marketing, but we can achieve great things."

ISS managing director Phil Jones pointed out that most grounds care companies have already been involved in extensive discussions with their contractors. He said this would increase: "Public bodies will have to come to us to discuss how to get things done. It offers a lot of opportunities."

He added that the transfer of assets would not be a big issue and said some services would have to be reduced: "With this level of cuts, service levels will have to go down," he said.

Contractors working in the private sector were also positive. Simon Morrish is managing director of Ground Control, which works for private-sector organisations such as water boards and property management companies.

"It is good for the labour market and we might want to get more involved with public organisations," he suggested. "But it won't have any immediate impact on us."

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