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Gloucestershire Business News

Councillor calls for £5.7 million a year services contract to end

A councillor has urged Gloucester City Council to scrap its contract with services provider Amey.

The fifteen year contract is not due to end until March 31, 2022 and is valued at £5.7million per year. Amey are contracted to provide street cleaning, grounds maintenance, recycling and refuse collection services.

But the Liberal Democrat leader on Gloucester City Council, Cllr Jeremy Hilton wants an early end to the council's streetcare contract with Amey, claiming councillors email inboxes have been flooded with complaints from residents about missed bin collections over the Christmas period.

Cllr Hilton (pictured right) says this follows on from a similar problem with bins not being collected last year due to insufficient drivers being available. He claims the quality of the street cleaning and grounds maintenance services is also "problematic."

Now the streetcare service will be discussed at the council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday when Cllr Hilton will call for an ending of the contract earlier rather later.

He said: "The sooner we reorganise the streetcare services the better. I favour serious consideration to bringing the service back in-house with council employing and managing staff directly rather than through a third party."

But Cllr Richard Cook, city council cabinet member for environment said the recent delays in refuse collections were caused by the dangerous snow and icy conditions and were not Amey's fault.

"They are working very hard to catch up. Essentially they are having to do two weeks work in one week, but I have been assured that they should catch up this week, although may have to work on Saturday to complete. I consider their work on this occasion to be commendable," he said.

The problems with recycling collections during the late summer were caused by a shortage of drivers.

"This shortage lasted about one week, but I feel that management acted quickly when necessary, increasing driver wages to attract more recruits, transferring workers from other areas, and other steps to improve staff retention, thereby resolving the problem," said Cllr Cook.

He warned that If the council chose to terminate the contract it could face a legal battle and claims for damages that could amount to millions of pounds.

"I think we have a duty of care to our taxpayers to be more cautious than that," said Cllr Cook.

"In my last presentation to the Overview and Scrutiny committee, I advised them (including Cllr Hilton) that we would have to begin the process of looking to determine how the future of the Streetcare contract would have to be managed - with or without Amey, in house or with another contractor - will all have to be examined.

"We have four years to work this out, but in the meantime, we are continuing to work with Amey - both operatives and management, in continuing efforts to improve the entire contract performance. Some of those efforts will show improvements this year, and we will continue to look for and implement further improvements."

Punchline has approached Amey for a comment and is awaiting a response.

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