Agenda item

Surrey Streetscene Services


RESOLVED that Option 2 – Maintain existing frequency, be supported as the preferred option moving forward for the Streetscene Services.


(Link to Council Priorities: P1, P2, P3)


The Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture reminded Members that at the meeting of the Cabinet in November 2008, the transfer from Surrey County Council (SCC) to the Council of selected Streetscene services, specifically the responsibility for highway verge cutting, weed control and verge repairs, with effect from 1 April 2009, had been approved.


With the transfer of services, a legal agency agreement was signed which detailed the services to be provided and whilst this agreement has since been renewed and extended, the current agreement was due to expire on 31 March 2017.


The Portfolio Holder updated that The Landscape Group (TLG) had been undertaking the cutting of the verges since responsibility had first transferred to the Council in 2009, with the contract for this work subsequently coming to an end on 31 March 2016.  With the combining of the grounds maintenance and highway verge contracts into the new Green Spaces contract in 2015, the highway verges contract was included within the tender documentation and the contractor had been made aware that the new arrangement would come into effect from April 2016 with a suitable break clause should Surrey withdraw or reduce their funding.


In order to continue to provide best value for the Council, officers had agreed with TLG to continue to maintain the grass verges on a frequency based contract for the remaining year of the agency, continuing to maintain the verges at 10 urban (on a 4-week cycle) and 2 rural cuts a year.


Given that the existing agency agreement for the Streetscene services between the Council and SCC was due to expire on 31 March 2017, officers from SCC had undertaken a tendering exercise to establish a new base level of funding from 1 April 2017 onwards, should any Surrey Boroughs decide to hand back the services, or to use the contract prices provided through the framework. It was noted that the framework had been tendered on the basis of 7 urban cuts, 2 rural cuts and 3 weed spray treatments per year.


Members noted that Surrey’s Local Highway Services Group Manager had contacted the Council with the financial offer for the next 3 years based on the outcomes of the Framework tender.  Whilst the offer sum was a 39% reduction on the current level of funding, Surrey had indicated that they would be prepared to offer an additional 20% for staffing costs on top of that amount.


The Portfolio Holder reported that the Council had secured funding from SCC for the current financial year however based on the reduced level of funding for the next 3 years, four options were proposed, namely:


·           Option 1 - Carry out reduced level of cutting to the revised SCC client specification (within the level of funding offered by SCC);


·           Option 2 – Maintain existing frequency (which would incur an additional cost to the Council of £3,597 a year for the remainder of the contract, in addition to the funding provided by SCC);


·           Option 3 – Increase frequency to 12 (which would require a growth item in the Highway Verges Budget of £28,534 a year for the remainder of the contract); or


·           Option 4 – Hand back to Surrey.


The Cabinet discussed the four options in respect of the Surrey Streetscene services and mindful of the current budget position, agreed that Option 2 (Maintain existing frequency) should be supported.  It was noted that this option would incur an additional cost to the Council of £3,597 a year for the remainder of the contract.


During the discussion, one Member acknowledged that this report was the second report on the agenda that included reductions in Surrey County Council funding and queried whether any future funding reductions were on the horizon.  The Leader, in his capacity as a Surrey County Councillor, provided an update on the County Council’s budget setting process and confirmed that it was likely that more funding reductions would occur in the future given the County Council’s budget pressures.  The Chief Executive further commented that officers were working with colleagues at the County Council and impact statements were being prepared where appropriate.


RESOLVED that Option 2 – Maintain existing frequency, be supported as the preferred option moving forward for the Streetscene Services.

Supporting documents: