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Greenwich Council sign off on private wardens in town centres – after making their own redundant

Directly employed wardens seen in Woolwich. Now gone

Last month I wrote how Greenwich Council were considering hiring private wardens to patrol town centres. Since then the plan has been agreed.

The council has now made directly employed wardens redundant and offered redundancy pay-outs. They’ve subsequently agreed a deal with company named LA Support Ltd which sees income split 50-50, but only after initial set-up costs are recovered by the private company. The contract award is £383,000 excluding VAT.

Woolwich has seen council employed staff leave

In addition, the company would provide ICT systems resulting in: “A nominal cost
per RBG issued ticket (£20) will be payable to the provider for the above service.”

LA Support are owned by Kingdom Services.

I’m struggling to see how this is good value for taxpayers. The authority get rid of staff, whereby 100% of fine income is sent to council coffers, pay them redundancy, then offer a private company a contract whereby they retain 100% of fine income while new systems are created, and then after that they retain £20 per ticket and only then is income split 50-50.

Eltham currently sees no wardens

As I wrote last month this all has echoes of their parking enforcement across parts of the borough. They outsourced enforcement to a private company named Wing Security and receive no income from fines. That contract was established in 2014 and renewed in 2018. The council actually tried to spin it as a win by claiming it as cost-neutral for taxpayer. Well, if in-house it would almost certainly generate money.

And given how poor parking enforcement actually is in Wing Security controlled areas, income potential is there. There may be less poor parking hindering pedestrians too. OK, given Greenwich’s direct parking services are very poor and have a £12 million deficit in income this decade compared to budgeted numbers, then maybe not. But at least all fine income wouldn’t go elsewhere.

All this in a time of cuts.

 

8 Comments

  1. David

    The value of enviro crime fines against the true ‘on’ costs of directly employing wardens is miniscule and its ridiculous to suggest otherwise. Outsourcing this type of work to external contractors may not appear to save costs but in reality saves a substantial amount for Councils. The real loss is that directly employed Council wardens offer a greater breadth of service (not just an enforcement role) whereas contractors will (generally speaking) be driven to focus on the limited parameters of their contract which have the potential to be profitable and everything else will be a lower priority.

  2. Charles Calthrop

    Am I alone in thinking that someone in the council has an abiding interest in the firm or is simply repaying a political debt? It wouldn’t surprise me: Lewisham Council hired a QC as I recall to avoid disclosure of any link with former councillors and the firm wishing to develop the contested Millwall site. I don’t doubt that the move is for personal gain rather than done out of sheer stupidity. The wardens may not have been the most effective but they don’t deserve to be made redundant.

    • Ashley

      Agree with Charles Calthrop, Clearly not in the right direction, especially when it comes down to parking issues in the Borough too.

      Who awards contracts with no means of revenue.
      A borough wide strategy to combat illegal parking, obstruction and abandoned untaxed vehicles must happen, if you managed this process rigorously in the first place you wouldn’t have half the problems you see on the roads daily. A stronger presence is needed. If any other London Borough can do it why can’t Greenwich? Most of these councils contract out their parking services and receive significant revenues by well-established parking enforcement companies such as Apoca or NCP etc. to fund much needed investment for public safety, Public Realm upgrades and other traffic measures.

  3. Sim

    To be honest I think this is great news, particularly for Woolwich town centre. Anti-social behaviour is rife and I’ve never seen council wardens do anything in the two years I’ve lived here. Any action is an improvement as the riff raff need to be rattled so they move on!

    • Spence

      Should of opened your eyes a bit more then, because they actually done quite a lot. A lot of what they done was untold to the public. Maybe instead of commenting on here, stop and speak to them and ask about all the years they put in and what was done that was not spoke of in the big wig meetings and not released to papers for some reason.

  4. C Robbo

    Greenwich Council sounds more like a Conservative council with each move it makes.

    At the least it could have done was TUPE’D it’s staff over to the new contractor as that would have saved them redundancy payments and kept the workers T&C’ s in place.

    Are we all been lead up the garden path by central and local government saying that all contacts with outside contractors would be stopped after the Corilain, Serco et al turn out or is insider trading in play here again?

  5. DISAPPOINTED

    To use the private sector is not in itself a bad thing, its the lack of focus and expertise in the public sector that is the issue. Given the council history on monitoring contractual performance, its likely that the company will tear the a!rse out of the councils finances and not be held accountable for under performance. So now we are about to see another instance of financial suicide by RBG.

    I also would like to know why the employees were not TUPE’D over. You would have thought it was part of the negotiations. Not unless they are over priced and under skilled……its not as if we are awash with evidence of their great performance over the years. Note to have skilled staff and not use them speaks volumes. For the council to miss a trick is expected, they’re useless but for the private sector (sharks) to miss the same opportunity is highly unlikely.

  6. EthicsGradient

    “Greenwich Council sounds more like a Conservative council with each move it makes.”

    = Spot on, particularly at the directorate level.

    “… its likely that the company will tear the a!rse out of the councils finances and not be held accountable for under performance.”

    = indeed

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