Royal Parks review to see revamp of apprenticeship programme

Parks agency to end all existing contracts in February 2006 as part of a complete review of services

An options review of London’s Royal Parks is “full-speed under way”. Head of parks services Dennis Clarke and Brentford-based SGS Environmental & Management Consultancy are examining parks services to find the most efficient way to deliver them when new contracts start in March 2006. Outcomes from the review will include a revamped apprenticeship scheme and the possibility of bringing some work back in-house. SGS managing director Sid Sullivan said: “This has never been done before. It’s bringing a level of transparency to the Royal Parks that has not been available in the past.” Clarke said: “There’s such a breadth to this project — it’s the Royal Parks’ version of a Best Value review. We’ll be looking at what our parks consist of and how to manage them. We need to look at services from all angles. We’ve set our sights high and we want to take the lead in green-space delivery.” The review will look at how the Royal Parks works with its contractors. Clarke is keen to arrive at a routemap for future service delivery with enough flexibility to react to changes in the future. All contracts will have to be flexible if London is successful in its 2012 Olympic bid, in which sports facilities would be created in the parks. All existing contracts have been readjusted to finish together in February 2006 so review results can be incorporated into the new contracts. Contract specifications are being reviewed to bring them up to date, with issues including recycling targets and encouraging wider use of the parks. Clarke has involved contractors in the process and is keen to develop more partnerships across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The review will include a revamped apprenticeship scheme and an emphasis on continual career development for grounds staff. The Royal Parks is set to release more information in June, following a report from SGS in May.

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