Borough Council of Wellingborough

First year success for new council venture

Published Thursday, 14 March 2013

The environmental services company set up last March by Wellingborough Council has reported a successful first year of operation.

Figures released this week show that the company, Wellingborough Norse, has so far generated a surplus for the council of more than £250,000, as well as improving service standards and employing a number of local people in permanent jobs.

The company was formed as a joint venture between Wellingborough Council and Norse Commercial Services to take on responsibility for a wide range of duties, including emptying around 34,000 wheelie bins each week, keeping streets clean, removing fly tipping and graffiti, preparing and maintaining graves, looking after public toilets, and taking care of parks and open spaces. Around 100 council employees transferred to the new company when it began operating on 1 March 2012.

The venture meant that the local authority could keep significant control over the services, but would also benefit from half of the profits generated by the company. Over the course of the 10-year contract, Wellingborough Norse is expected to save the council several million pounds through taking on additional work, profit sharing, increased buying power, reduction of costs, and increased recycling income. At the end of its first year, the company has forecast a profit of around £530,000, meaning the council is likely to receive more than £250,000.

Also during its first year, the company reports that it has replaced agency workers with permanent employees, recruiting nine people in total. Other highlights featured in the report include an increase in support for environmental wardens to help enforce by-laws, an above-target increase in the amount of waste recycled, and a reduction in the number of bins missed for emptying. The company has also secured trade waste contracts and ad-hoc building cleaning work.

Council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: "Environmental services affect every single taxpayer in the borough and, when they're done well, they can really make a positive difference to people's lives. When we signed the contract for Wellingborough Norse this time last year we were determined that even in these tough economic circumstances the standard of these services mustn't be compromised. This has never been an outsourcing operation, designed simply to save money. It has always been a partnership, with the focus very much on providing the best services possible. I am delighted at how much it has achieved and how many opportunities it has opened up and I'm confident the company will continue to go from strength to strength."

Peter Hawes, Managing Director of Norse Commercial Services said: "For many years we have pioneered a radical and cost-saving approach to the delivery of public services by forming joint venture companies with local authorities. We are very experienced and we were able to identify a number of potential savings for Wellingborough. Everything we do is about working hand in hand with the council, responding quickly to their needs and surpassing their expectations."