Grass-cutting payments stopped until contractor shapes up

CONTRACTORS tasked with mowing roadside verges for Wiltshire Council have had their payments stopped until they get their act together.

“The service being provided isn’t good enough,” the council’s deputy leader John Thomson admitted to members in a briefing note.

Balfour Beatty Living Places has come under criticism since it was awarded a £150m five-year contract last year to maintain the county’s roads, cut the grass and repair street lights.

It has upset trade unions by refusing to negotiate with them on terms and conditions for staff it has taken on from the council.

And numerous readers have complained to the Journal about the unkempt state of the city’s verges.

Now councillors have been told the company’s performance |“has proved to be below the expected standard in a small number of areas including grass cutting”.

Cllr Thomson, who is the cabinet member responsible for highways, stated at last month’s full council meeting that if things did not improve, the council would take the matter further.

“Unfortunately there have been further issues recently, particularly with grass cutting in the west of the county,” said the briefing note.

“Therefore Wiltshire Council has set out measures such as withholding payment for the areas where grass cutting has fallen below the agreed standard and requiring detailed plans from BBLP which outline clear resource levels for each area of work.”

Cllr Thomson said: “We are determined to work with Balfour Beatty Living Places so standards are raised quickly.

“This is a resource level issue, and it is limited to certain areas of maintenance.

“BBLP performed well during the winter flooding, and we want this level of service across all the areas of work which the company is responsible for.”

A task group of councillors will be meeting next Wednesday to take a further look at the grass cutting section of the contract and the way it is being implemented.

A spokesman for Balfour Beatty Living Places said: “Unfortunately, despite allocating additional resources to grass cutting, we are still behind schedule in a small number of areas, most notably in West Wiltshire.

“We take any failure of delivery very seriously and have agreed with the council to a reduction of our charges for grass cutting in these areas.

“We are continuing to do everything we can to resolve the backlog of work and will continue to deploy additional resources until the situation has been resolved.

“We are confident that we will deliver good service and value for money for the people of Wiltshire.”

Comments (7)

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10:54am Wed 18 Jun 14

karlmarx says...

Yet another Wiltshire Council shambles unfolds. So it's the same staff who did the job previously (It has upset trade unions by refusing to negotiate with them on terms and conditions for staff it has taken on from the council.) who are doing the job now? The only thing that has changed then is that these staff members who were doing the job previously in the public sector are now working for a private company.
Doesn't that tell you something? For those having trouble seeing the point remember the London Olympic games? The security contract was awarded to a private security company and they failed to deliver any security. Guess who had to step in to rescue the situation? The military, public sector.
So the motto is (I'll let you all fill in the blanks)
'if you want a job done well use the ...... Sector, if you want a shambles use the ....... Sector'

Cue negative voting (but with no attempt whatsoever to put forward an argument defending their negative vote)
Yet another Wiltshire Council shambles unfolds. So it's the same staff who did the job previously (It has upset trade unions by refusing to negotiate with them on terms and conditions for staff it has taken on from the council.) who are doing the job now? The only thing that has changed then is that these staff members who were doing the job previously in the public sector are now working for a private company. Doesn't that tell you something? For those having trouble seeing the point remember the London Olympic games? The security contract was awarded to a private security company and they failed to deliver any security. Guess who had to step in to rescue the situation? The military, public sector. So the motto is (I'll let you all fill in the blanks) 'if you want a job done well use the ...... Sector, if you want a shambles use the ....... Sector' Cue negative voting (but with no attempt whatsoever to put forward an argument defending their negative vote) karlmarx
  • Score: 0

11:08am Wed 18 Jun 14

Old Salisbury Boy says...

Yet another Wiltshire Council shambles becomes public, just how many are being covered up we will never know with the many contractors / consultants trying to help (at great expense) having to sign 'confidentiality clauses' so the whistle blower regulations become ineffective.
The ballot box in several months time will not cure the serpent that Wilts Council has become.
The only solution is to split the county into two smaller but more manageable and local councils, one for the South and one for the North, hopefully the Audit Office will advise this, the bonus being that we can get rid of SalisburyCity Parish council as well!
Yet another Wiltshire Council shambles becomes public, just how many are being covered up we will never know with the many contractors / consultants trying to help (at great expense) having to sign 'confidentiality clauses' so the whistle blower regulations become ineffective. The ballot box in several months time will not cure the serpent that Wilts Council has become. The only solution is to split the county into two smaller but more manageable and local councils, one for the South and one for the North, hopefully the Audit Office will advise this, the bonus being that we can get rid of SalisburyCity Parish council as well! Old Salisbury Boy
  • Score: 18

12:39pm Wed 18 Jun 14

henmar10 says...

Another wonderful result, from those lovely people who brought us the Hatfield rail disaster! (A firm known as "Balfour Beatty", it seems.) From seeing what happens when private companies fail to deliver public services, consider the Edinburgh tramline, the Cambridge guided bus, and so on. All well over budget, all delivering considerably less than promised. However, if Wiltshire take BB to court, the only ones who will win will be the lawyers. This is the Wonderful World of Privatisation!
Another wonderful result, from those lovely people who brought us the Hatfield rail disaster! (A firm known as "Balfour Beatty", it seems.) From seeing what happens when private companies fail to deliver public services, consider the Edinburgh tramline, the Cambridge guided bus, and so on. All well over budget, all delivering considerably less than promised. However, if Wiltshire take BB to court, the only ones who will win will be the lawyers. This is the Wonderful World of Privatisation! henmar10
  • Score: 6

8:57pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Petera says...

If you pay peanuts you get monkeys! By taking the lowest tender they have employed a company unable to deliver to the standerds required. This will always be the case.
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys! By taking the lowest tender they have employed a company unable to deliver to the standerds required. This will always be the case. Petera
  • Score: 10

8:57pm Wed 18 Jun 14

wasue says...

These same people installed a new lamp post outside my house in November with a plastic concrete bag on the top. Yesterday they came to take the old one away (neither work) and in doing so fractured a water mains!! No water for hours while Wessex water repaired the pipe. Now I am left with a lamp post that doesn't work and a damaged hedge due to the water repairs. These people are just a joke.
These same people installed a new lamp post outside my house in November with a plastic concrete bag on the top. Yesterday they came to take the old one away (neither work) and in doing so fractured a water mains!! No water for hours while Wessex water repaired the pipe. Now I am left with a lamp post that doesn't work and a damaged hedge due to the water repairs. These people are just a joke. wasue
  • Score: 11

5:56am Thu 19 Jun 14

karlmarx says...

Why don't they just buy a few goats, they'll keep the grass down.
Why don't they just buy a few goats, they'll keep the grass down. karlmarx
  • Score: 0

9:33am Wed 25 Jun 14

gingin says...

Petera wrote:
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys! By taking the lowest tender they have employed a company unable to deliver to the standerds required. This will always be the case.
Exactly, its no good John Thomson setting up a group of councillors to look at the grass cutting section of BBLP's contract now and saying WC wishes to work with them to raise the standard. Too little too late and with tax payers money.

This company should not have been awarded the contract in the first place and as a cabinet member/deputy leader one has to suppose he voted for to award them the contract!

I have said it before that the cheapest option is not the best way forward and is not best practice!
[quote][p][bold]Petera[/bold] wrote: If you pay peanuts you get monkeys! By taking the lowest tender they have employed a company unable to deliver to the standerds required. This will always be the case.[/p][/quote]Exactly, its no good John Thomson setting up a group of councillors to look at the grass cutting section of BBLP's contract now and saying WC wishes to work with them to raise the standard. Too little too late and with tax payers money. This company should not have been awarded the contract in the first place and as a cabinet member/deputy leader one has to suppose he voted for to award them the contract! I have said it before that the cheapest option is not the best way forward and is not best practice! gingin
  • Score: 1

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