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Nottinghamshire buys Cornwall out of joint venture

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Nottinghamshire CC has bought the majority shareholding in the company provider of its highways and fleet services, after buying out the Cornwall CC-owned company Conserv for £5m.

The company, Via East Midlands, had been operating as a joint venture between Nottinghamshire and Corserv since July 2016, when operations staff had transferred in to Via from the existing Nottinghamshire highways department. Corserv provided Via with support services, including finance, health and safety, governance and procurement.

However, Nottinghamshire has now bought out Corserv’s majority (51%) shareholding for £5m and £400k for transitional support services.

Leader Kay Cutts (Con) said the two councils had agreed to go their separate ways in order to develop different models of service delivery.

“We are investing in Nottinghamshire in buying these shares,” she said. “It means our highways and fleet management services are now wholly-owned and controlled by Nottinghamshire County Council so we can be sure our road network continues to meet the needs of local people and businesses.”

Via will operate from Nottinghamshire CC’s building in Bilsthorpe, and all profits generated by Via through its commercial work will now be re-invested in Nottinghamshire for the benefit of local residents.

“We have ambitious plans and want to ensure that Via grows and diversifies its business across the whole of East Midlands,” Ms Cutts added.

Of the proceeds from the sale, £2.83m will be returned to Cornwall Council and the balance will be used, by the Corserv Group, to deliver their business plan.

Corserv is one of the biggest employers in Cornwall, with a collective turnover of £250m and more than 2,600 employees. It provides roads, housing, transport, inward investment, engineering, social care and other essential services to Cornwall and beyond through it’s five branches - Corserv Limited, Cormac Solutions Limited, Cornwall Housing Limited,Cornwall Airport Limited, Newquay; and Cornwall Development Company Limited.

Caroline Mooney, head of communications for Conserv Group, explained that Via East Midlands was based on the model already operating in Cornwall. ”Now that, with Corserv’s guidance, it’s operating well, it makes sense for [Nottinghamshire] to want to own it outright,” she said. 

“We want to make the Corserv group the provider of choice across Cornwall and the South West. This means ensuring that Cormac is the provider of choice for all highways-related and environment related work, Cornwall Housing is the service provider of choice to the housing industry, and Cornwall Airport Newquay becomes the number one airport in the South West for airlines and passengers. It also means means ensuring that Cornwall Development Company continues to attract development projects and inward investment to the region and Corserv Ltd continued to provide (and centralises) support services to the group of companies.”





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