Council scraps £150m Balfour Beatty deal two years early

Wiltshire council in the west of England has ended a £150m outsourcing contract with Balfour Beatty two years early.

Under the 2013 deal, Balfour Beatty took over a wide range of council services, including road mending, the maintenance of public spaces and rubbish collection. The contractor set up a company, Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), to undertake the work, and hundreds of council workers were transferred to it.

The decision follows complaints from residents of the county about the level of service that was being delivered

Now, by mutual agreement, the contract will terminate in March, more than two years before the scheduled end date of June 2018.

A spokesman from the Conservative-run countil told the Western Daily Press that a "phased transfer plan" would begin, under which the council will take over particular activities, and a new provider will take over the services in April 2016.

"In the meantime Balfour Beatty will remain responsible for street lighting maintenance and highways activity such as temporary repair works, paths and cycle schemes, and will continue to work closely with Wiltshire Council."

The decision follows complaints from residents of the county about the level of service that was being delivered. There were complaints that potholes were not being filled in and grass was not being cut, and councillors called for improvements in the performance from BBLP. One resident became a social media celebrity after a picture of him cutting the grass at a local playpark went viral (pictured).

The company met opposition from workers’ unions after it announced that it would no longer recognise them and would organise"staff associations and employee forums" instead to handle agreements over pay rises.

Opposition councillors and union leaders claimed BBLP had offered to take on the work for too little money, and so were cutting corners to make it pay.

Image: A picture of resident Wayne Kibble mowing a park in Malmesbury went viral in 2014 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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