The Highland Council’s Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee has agreed savings proposals for grounds maintenance.
Earlier in the year, the Council agreed that a tender for routine grass cutting be issued to establish the potential level of savings to be gained from contracting out this area of service. In parallel, it was agreed that an in-house bid be prepared for comparison with the external tenders.
The contract is split into 9 lots or areas, and will run for three years from April 2011.
Excluded from the tender were the core grounds maintenance activities including burials and cremations, grass cutting in certain cemeteries, flower beds, sports pitch maintenance, play areas and winter maintenance. The excluded activities will see the Council retaining a core workforce of some 76 staff.
At the TECS Committee, members were advised that the tender for grass cutting has resulted in a significant level of savings, (in excess of £1.3 million over 3 years).
It was agreed that services in Caithness Sutherland and East Ross should remain in-house.
In Mid/West Ross, Badenoch and Strathspey, Inverness and Nairn, services will be awarded to one new private contractor, who would also take over services in Lochaber, Skye and Lochalsh, from April 2012, when an existing contract, provided by a separate external contractor, ends.
The Committee was told that an estimated 22 Council staff would transfer to the new contractor under the TUPE regulations. It was also estimated that the remaining workforce would have to be reduced by around 33 posts. This number could be reduced to a maximum of15 through the management of vacant posts. The Council would also continue to seek alternative employment for all other staff.
Councillor John Laing, the Chair of TEC Services, said: “This proposal delivers a significant saving to the council. While it is unfortunate that jobs will be lost, we will be making every effort to minimise the impact through the management of vacant posts.”