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Council services begin a new era

PUBLISHED: 19:50 04 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:48 05 July 2010

A 15-YEAR contract which transfers frontline services in Waveney, including bin collections, street cleaning, car parking and the upkeep of parks, to a new company in deal worth more than £120m, began on Tuesday.

A 15-YEAR contract which transfers frontline services in Waveney, including bin collections, street cleaning, car parking and the upkeep of parks, to a new company in deal worth more than £120m, began on Tuesday.

Norfolk County Services (NCS) Ltd, a company owned by Norfolk County Council, beat off competition to be awarded the contract to form the new body known as Waveney Norse.

Conservative-run Waveney District Council insisted the new company would provide a better service for taxpayers, but opposition councillors raised fears about the decision to bring in an outside operator.

The organisation will be run as a joint venture company, meaning members of Waveney council will have a place on the board and have the power of veto over decisions. The council will also be entitled to a 50pc share of any profits.

As part of the deal, 165 workers currently employed by the district council's operations department will transfer to Waveney Norse on existing terms and conditions. There will be no redundancies.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney's portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “This joint-venture company will operate some of the most prominent, public-facing services we provide. It was our aim to ensure continuous improvement and sustainability of services and find a partner that shared our objectives of providing a first-class service that offered increased customer satisfaction.”

Other services the new company will be responsible for include coastal protection works, drainage services, abandoned cars, cemeteries and burial services, and beach safety.

Malcolm Cherry, leader of the opposition Labour group at Waveney, said his group had concerns about the contract.

“We are not 100pc happy about it. We still have continuing concerns even though it has been voted through. I'm still unsure about how much it will cost us if we have to pull out of the contract,” he said.

Andrew Shepherd, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said he was pleased NCS had such close links to the public sector, but was concerned about the deal.

“Local authorities are there to serve people and not farm things out,” he said. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the streets are clean and the parks are kept nice, then it will have been worthwhile. If they are not then we are back to square one.”

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