In 2013, Watford Borough Council outsourced its frontline services which consisted of Waste and Recycling; Street Cleansing; and Parks & Open Spaces. The decision was not taken lightly as all three service areas were high performing with high satisfaction rates, yet the council was in a position where it needed savings and efficiencies.
The outsourcing process was underpinned by two aims - to reduce costs, and to ensure these services remained high quality, and in particular, the much-loved parks and open spaces service.
Veolia was appointed because it completely grasped the partnership ethos from the outset - through the procurement process, through dialogue, to appointment and now to delivery.
The entire parks service was transferred to Veolia - this included allotments management, sports pitch management, grounds maintenance, tree management, parks development, cemetery operations and the Park Ranger service.
A client function consisting of the former head of parks, a contract monitoring officer and a cemetery manager were retained in-house.
The outcome has been very significant. Achievements of the partnership include:
- Green Flags up from three to eight, with another three entries submitted in 2017.
- Residents satisfaction rates up from 88% in 2013 to 91% in 2015
- High staff retention rate post TUPE transfer
- Significant investment in training for all parks staff
Overseen an award-winning £5m investment into Watford’s parks in partnership with the Council Investment in allotments jointly managed by the Council and Veolia New Forums established, jointly managed by the Council and Veolia. New strategies in place for parks, sports facilities, cemeteries and allotments - all delivered in partnership. Introduction of weekend burials for Watford's growing Muslim community. Investment in up to date plant and equipment. Support for community groups such as Green Gym and Friends Groups
Watford is now nearly four years into the contract with Veolia. Costs and efficiencies have been achieved, yet at the same time the service has improved and there has not been a requirement to issue a single penalty or default by the client. The partners have worked together strategically ensuring S106 contributions and investment has been targeted in the right place at the right time and is wholly sustainable. Since the beginning of the contract the emphasis has always been on partnership working. The dialogue is on a daily basis and the partnership working is on a permanent basis.... and it works.