Agenda item

Grounds Maintenance Contract


Phil Gill, Green Spaces Manager, gave an update on behalf of Streetpride on the current Grounds Maintenance Contract and the standards of service currently being provided.


It was acknowledged that the current Grounds Maintenance Control was not up to the normal standard the Council would like.  It had deteriorated over the last two years, the main reason for which was the budget and how it had failed to keep up with the job that was required.  A number of issues had added to the costs to deliver the service relating to cost of labour, plant hire, fuel and landfill tax.  The level of service previously experienced could, therefore, not be sustained.


Currently the service, delivered through Ringway, was run as an “At Cost” Contract, with little profit being made on an open book basis.  The Council was working in partnership with the contractor to ensure the delivery of the service and working closely with Parish Councils..


As of 1st April, 2008, grass was being cut on a three weekly cycle and seasonal bedding had been reduced.  In reality standards were therefore, reduced due to the reduction in the frequency of grass cutting and as a result of the inclement weather during the summer.


In spite of the difficulties the number of complaints received by Streetpride had reduced, but Streetpride were making every effort to limit the impact of this reduced service in the borough.


Whilst the situation was far from ideal, consideration needed to be given as how best to resolve this.  An improved budget position would achieve a better standard of service and the budget process was ongoing at the moment.


The contract with Ringway was due to expire in October, 2009.  There were provisions in the contract for this to be extended until 2011, but the Council needed to consider all its options before making any decision.


Work was ongoing and it was envisaged that the Council would embark on a period of consultation looking at ways to reach Parish Councils and other consultees shortly.


Various Parish Councils made comment on the current Grounds Maintenance Service and raised questions relating to:-


·              The Rotherham Charter with Parish Councils and if any budget could be devolved to those with Quality Parish Council status to undertake their own maintenance programme.

·              In the short term, the Council is undertaking a review of its grounds maintenance contract. In the medium term a review of how this is to be delivered, which may include devolvement of services to other organisations such as Parish Council will be considered.


Whether it was an option to bring the Grounds Maintenance Contract back “in house” by the Council:-


·              This option is to be considered as part of the short term review of the current service contract.



·              Whether consideration should be given to using bark or mulch along hedgerows to prevent the grass from growing.

·              Every opportunity to provide a sustainable approach to how areas are maintained is made. The use of mulch as weed depressant is undertaken in certain areas. The use in hedgerows will be considered.


Three week cutting cycle and the unsuitability of this frequency in rural areas:-


·              The current budget available only permits a frequency of cutting once every three weeks. At times of rapid growth rate and when inclement weather and poor ground conditions occur it is evident that cutting once every three weeks is not adequate. Requests for further funding for the grounds maintenance service for 2009/10 have been submitted and will be considered by members along with other priorities.


Agreed:-  (1)  That Phil Gill be thanked for his report.


(2)  That appropriate feedback be reported to Parish Councils in due course.