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Norwich council steers clear of legal battle

PUBLISHED: 08:31 02 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:20 02 July 2010

Sarah Hall

Norwich City Council has reached an agreement - believed to include some financial settlement - with the parent company of former contractors CityCare to avoid what could have been a costly High Court battle.

Norwich City Council has reached an agreement - believed to include some financial settlement - with the parent company of former contractors CityCare to avoid what could have been a costly High Court battle.

The legal action has been dropped by Morrison Facilities Services, but council bosses say a confidentiality agreement means they cannot reveal the terms of the agreement.

The High Court challenge was made because Morrison, which owned CityCare, was unhappy with the process by which a new company was chosen to fix and maintain Norwich's 17,000 council homes.

CityCare had the contract for a decade and wanted to continue with it. But City Hall wanted to award it to Exeter-based company Connaught, which bid £17.5m for the five-year contract.

Morrison successfully applied for an injunction at the High Court in London in February to stop the contract being awarded and a date was fixed for June for a judge to decide whether the process had been carried out correctly.

That could have proved extremely costly for City Hall had they lost - and yesterday City Hall revealed an agreement had been reached with Morrison, although they are remaining tight-lipped about the terms.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Our primary concerns were the uncertainty this was causing. Whatever the differences with the old contractor this wasn't fair on the workforce, the new contractor which wants to make a step change in improvements for the city, or our residents.

“We have secured the future for everyone and now we can look forward to improved services and huge savings.”

From this week Connaught has taken over as provider of services including waste and recycling, grounds maintenance, street cleaning, tree works, council house repairs, maintenance and improvements, gas and solid fuel maintenance and servicing, asbestos management and electrical and mechanical servicing.

Norse has taken over responsibility for multi-storey car park cleaning and non-housing building maintenance.

Almost 600 workers who used to be employed by CityCare have transferred across to the new companies.

A spokesman for Morrison said: “Morrison and Norwich City Council are pleased to have resolved their differences over the demobilisation of CityCare services and look forward to a seamless transition to the new service providers.

“Morrison has enjoyed working with Norwich City Council and will continue to participate in the life of the fine city.”

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