Council to consider extending grass cutting contracts


Members of The Highland Council’s Community Services Committee are to consider an update report on the Council’s Grounds Maintenance Service Delivery which includes an extension to existing grass cutting contracts next week on Thursday 21 August 2014.

A report to Committee will invite Members to:

  • note the grounds maintenance performance information for April to July 2014; 
  •  note the management action taken to address performance issues;
  • agree that a review of the supervision of grounds maintenance is undertaken; and
  • agree that the existing contractual arrangements for delivery of amenity grass cutting are extended for the 2015 season so that all contracts terminate at the same time.

Grounds maintenance for The Highland Council is provided through a mixture of in-house and external contracts for nine areas or grass cutting ‘lots’ in the region - six of which are awarded to contractors as follows: 

  • 1 for Skye to Golders Landscape Maintenance Ltd (2014/15 & 2015/16);
  • 5 for Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, Lochaber, Inverness and Mid & West Ross to ISS (2011/12 to 2014/15); and
  • the remaining 3, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross are delivered by the in-house workforce.

Out-of-house contracts has saved the Council £603k in grass cutting and the grounds maintenance budget was reduced by this sum in 2011/12.

Due to the weather conditions this May and June and the exceptional continued rate of grass growth, the Council had to address issues of poor grounds maintenance. These issues were addressed and the report to Members explains that the Council is confident that measures put in place have made a difference.

Community Services has begun a review of grounds maintenance contracts which will consider methods of service delivery, contract supervision and maintenance standards. Part of the review includes consideration of the different renewal periods of the existing grounds maintenance contracts in 2015 and 2016. The report outlines that: ‘To permit new contract options and savings to be properly considered it is necessary to extend the five existing grass cutting contract Lots with ISS and the three internally delivered Lots for one year to cover the 2015 season.’

Councillor Graham MacKenzie, Chair of Community Services, said: “Over the last 6 weeks, the performance of the ISS contract has improved markedly and we are confident that the measures put in place will be maintained.”

The report to Members confirms that: ‘ISS has shown a significant improvement in performance during July after implementing their recovery programme showing that they are capable of delivering an acceptable service.’ It also states that: ‘A decision to extend the amenity grass cutting contracts for Lots 1-4 and 6-9 secures the costs of service delivery for 2015.’


15 Aug 2014
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