This week Cabinet voted to authorise the end of our contract with Amey and to give permission for the range of services they deliver to be split up and offered to different providers.
When the original contract was drafted, the situation in Peterborough was very different to what it is now. By transferring these services from in-house to an external provider (originally Enterprise Ltd) we were able to generate year on year savings for the first years of the contract.
Amey subsequently inherited the contract five years ago, when they took over Enterprise. And they have done a good job. They saved us money and have ensured that our streets are clean, our parks, open spaces and property are maintained and have provided a good standard of home to school transport and catering.
However, it’s now come to a time that the contract is no longer fit for purpose on either side. The council’s budgets have got tighter and the number of homes in the city increased rapidly. From around the start of the contract with Enterprise we are now collecting more than 15,000 more bins per fortnight for instance. In addition, from a council point of view, we have been for some time looking to drive up recycling rates in the city to our target of 60 per cent.
We will now be able to split the contract up and offer it to different providers in a bid to get better value for money in these areas, more control and greater opportunity to generate income.
Regardless of what happens, residents should be assured that these services will continue to the same high standard until August 2018, which is when the transfer will take place. A smooth transfer is key for us, which is why we are pledging up to £500,000 to ensure that everything takes place in time for this to happen.
We are also aware that this will be an uncertain time for Amey staff and we are committed to working with them as they consult with staff on any proposed changes.
As you may be aware, the government issued its Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement earlier this week.
As this paper goes to print, we are still in the process of working out exactly what this will mean for our 2018/19 budget, but early indications show that councils won’t be receiving significant amounts of extra funding.
This is another reason why we are urging you all to support our Stand Up For Peterborough campaign to deliver fairer funding for the city by signing the online form on our website or writing to me directly. I will update you more on the effects of the financial settlement in the New Year in this column.