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HARLOW EMBARKS ON SERVICE DELIVERY EXPERIMENT

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Harlow Council has decided to create a joint venture partnership company (JVCo) with a private contractor as a way ...
Harlow Council has decided to create a joint venture partnership company (JVCo) with a private contractor as a way to provide housing maintenance, street cleaning and grounds maintenance.

On Wednesday the council's policy and resources committee agreed to begin negotiations with Kier plc with a view to creating the partnership, of which the council will retain a 20% share.

The JVCo would run most of the services currently provided through the council's Mead Park Depot, which include housing repairs, grounds maintenance, building cleaning, vehicle maintenance and street cleaning.

The decision to start negotiating a partnership contract with Kier marked the end of an extensive process, including discussions with staff and unions, and a competitive tender process involving a number of companies. The council will now conduct detailed negotiations solely with Kier with a view to finalising the partnership contract by 1 January 2007.

The contract would be awarded for seven years with an option to extend for another three years.

All staff currently employed in the services would be transferred to the partnership company under their existing conditions of employment, including pensions.

The council said it was confident that the new partnership arrangements would see a difference in services, including improvements in quality that will be achieved through strict targets that the JVCo must meet.

Councillor Chris Millington said: 'Some staff were anxious when the prospect of a joint venture company was first discussed, but we have aimed to be open in our communication and discussion with them.'

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