£14million to cut the grass

PUBLISHED: 16:58 23 July 2012

Archant

WANTED: A firm to take responsibility for cutting grass, trimming trees and cleaning streets across North Somerset. The salary? £14million.

That’s how much North Somerset Council is preparing to pay the winning bidder for a seven-year contract to take on these jobs across the district.

Until now, the authority has operated separate departments for grounds-keeping, tree management and street-cleaning.

However, that is about to change. The council needs to find £47million of savings over four years, and these departments are expected to shoulder around £735,000 of those cuts.

That amounts to 30 per cent of their allocation, so the council is hoping to merge the three departments into a single out-sourced arrangement.

A spokesman said: “The new contract combines grounds, trees and street cleansing into one contract, instead of three separate highly specialised ones previously operating.

“This will help to make the contract more efficient by reducing overheads; create economies of scale; attract the best rates from potential contractors, as it’s a bigger contract covering all the different work areas; and avoid duplicating tasks.

“The council will continue to maintain core services, so the grass will continue to be cut and trees will still be managed to keep any risk of harm to residents and their property to a minimum.

“It will also maintain the high level of street cleansing in town centres and busier areas such as Weston seafront.”

The changes will mean that work is carried out on a needs basis, rather than by routine. That will mean responding to reports from the public about where work is required.

Companies have now been invited to tender for the contract, and have until the end of August to submit their proposals.

Bids will then be scrutinised by council officers, with a report going to full council in November, and a decision expected in December.

Once the decision has been made and contacts signed, the new firm will take over responsibilities for the works from April next year.

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