New commissioning model could mean more work for private contractors

A shift from traditional parks departments to a commissioning model could potentially mean more work for private contractors as local authorities look for savings.

With procurement a major element of the commissioning framework, the move to outsourcing, which began during compulsory competitive tendering, could become even more common.

Lewisham Council has been successfully partnering with Glendale Grounds Management on its parks for almost 10 years, with the standard of work rigorously monitored through monthly random checks.

Glendale Grounds Management managing director Michelle Maybury said the company's relationship with Liverpool City Council was an example of how strategic commissioning might work.

Joint-venture company Glendale Liverpool is owned partly by the city council and partly by Glendale.

Ground Control senior contracts manager Neil Huck said the concept of outcome specification was becoming more common. "A system that is performance- rather than schedule-based is becoming the norm," he explained. "Some of the commercial contracts are already like this. However, there is a risk that the monitoring and control of contracts won't be there. Some local authorities already allow contractors to carry out self-monitoring, with the submission of reports.

"But the biggest risk from all this is that parks standards and maintenance will slip because no one is controlling that. The local authorities are doing it for a reason and that's to save money."


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