City council refuses to reveal cost of bringing all Norse services back in-house

Norse mantains all council homes in the city, including Normandie Tower. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norse mantains all council homes in the city, including Normandie Tower. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Council chiefs are under pressure today to publish reports into the cost of taking millions of pounds of services back in-house.

Norse looks after the city's parks, including Eaton Park, pictured. Photo: Archant

Norse looks after the city's parks, including Eaton Park, pictured. Photo: Archant - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Norwich City Council told its biggest contractor, Norse, last week that it was looking to end all its contracts with them more than three years early.

It would mean more than 400 Norse staff - who look after council homes, clean the city's streets and maintain parks - would be employed by the council from next April.

But there is no break clause in the Norse contracts, meaning it could have to spend millions of taxpayers' pounds in compensation to Norse.

Officers wrote a report for councillors in June to justify bringing the Norse services in-house, but that has never been published or debated in public.

Norse took over the contract to maintain council homes after the collapse of Connaught in 2010. Phot

Norse took over the contract to maintain council homes after the collapse of Connaught in 2010. Photo: Archant - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010


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It also does not include the cost of breaking the contract with Norse as those discussions have not begun.

Lib Dem councillor James Wright, who is chair of the council's scrutiny committee, said he had read the 'detailed' report and did not feel there was a need for the committee to scrutinise it at the moment.

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He said opposition leaders had raised questions about it in June at a cabinet meeting behind closed doors.

But he added the Labour-run council should publish the report 'as soon as is practical'.

There are no Conservatives on the council, but the party's spokesman for Norwich South, Andrew Wiltshire, has written to council chief executive Laura McGillivray.

'I am surprised by press reports that the council will not disclose its business case,' he wrote.

'Crucially the council must make it clear what it expects the move to cost.'

The council has also refused to say if there will be any redundancies from the move.

When this newspaper asked that question, a council spokeswoman said: 'TUPE will apply to staff.'

TUPE means employees who are transferred across to City Hall from Norse would be transferred with the same rights.

Norse was given the contract for maintaining the city's 15,000 council homes after the collapse of previous contractor Connaught and Fountains in 2010.

Norse said since then it had turned the service around and cut costs.

It said it would continue delivering services as normal.

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