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More behind closed doors talks at City Hall to discuss future of £20m worth of Norse contracts

PUBLISHED: 12:40 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:45 04 October 2018

Norse has the contract to maintain parks like Eaton Park, but that could change. Pic: Sonya Brown.

Norse has the contract to maintain parks like Eaton Park, but that could change. Pic: Sonya Brown.

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Further talks about how millions of pounds worth of Norwich services, including looking after council homes, street cleaning and tending parks, are provided will take place next week - behind closed doors.

Laura McGillivray,  chief executive at Norwich City Council. Picture: Denise BradleyLaura McGillivray, chief executive at Norwich City Council. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norwich City Council currently has four contracts with Norse, an arms-length company owned by Norfolk County Council, to provide those services, worth £20m a year.

But, at the start of the summer City Hall chief executive Laura McGillivray write to Norse signalling the council’s “strong intention” for the council to provide the services itself, rather than through the contractor.

There are still more than three years left to run on the contracts and it is not yet clear how much it would cost the city council to break them.

But, at a meeting of the city council’s Labour-controlled cabinet next week, the issue will be debated, although the public and press will not be allowed to hear the debate.

The issue is being discussed “below the line”, with the council saying it needs to be discussed in secret because confidential information will be revealed.

Norse took on the contract for maintenance of the city’s council housing stock in 2011, after the collapse of the council’s contractor Connaught.

It also has a second contract to repair other council-owned buildings, which was renewed in 2014, and has more than five years left to run.

Norse has a third contract through a company it owns with Norwich City Council called NPS Norwich to survey buildings. That has three and a half years left on it.

The council’s fourth contract is with Norse Environmental Services to keep the city’s streets and parks clean.

Seven councillors on the council’s cabinet had discussed taking all the services in-house in June, but a final decision has yet to be made.

It is understood the discussions at next Wednesday’s cabinet meeting are likely to be an update on progress, rather than a final decision.

The council says the 400 workers would be transferred to City Hall from Norse, but it is not yet clear where they would be based.

But Ms McGillivray recently said the Mile Cross depot - which the council is keen to redevelop - was not a preferred location.

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