MP accuses parks and open spaces contractor of failing the people of Fenland - time for a change, he argues

PUBLISHED: 12:35 13 June 2018

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

HARRY RUTTER

MP Steve Barclay says there is “no question” that the company into the third of its five year £2.5 million contract to maintain Fenland’s parks and open spaces has failed.

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTERThe clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

It follows widespread criticism of the back log of work needing to be done across Fenland towns and villages.

Mr Barclay, the MP for NE Cambs, said: “The long grass around Fenland is a concern to many people locally as it is to me and there is no question that the contractor has failed.

“I am grateful to Fenland District Council for issuing a spate of rectification notices to enforce the contract which is currently not being delivered by Tivoli ISS Group.”

He added: “I am sure there are many local companies who Tivoli could subcontract this outstanding work to, to assist in clearing the backlog.

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

“More generally, I hope the council will look at whether there are any local landscaping firms who could do this work.

“I believe that local firms are more likely to take pride in this maintenance work than a national contractor who has shown poor performance in this case.”

Fenland Council revealed that Tivoli has been put on warning notice for poor performance.

A council spokesman confirmed that last month “we issued formal rectification notices to Tivoli to address areas of concern.

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

“Further rectification notices have been issued in June, and a cemetery inspection has been undertaken between the Tivoli contract manager and the FDC open spaces manager.

“This has identified ongoing concerns regarding the grass cutting rounds and the Tivoli contract manager is responding to those concerns.”

The council’s comments come after complaints from across the district with towns and villages turning to local councillors and to social media to highlight their concerns.

The council spokesman said: “We are continuing to monitor the contractor’s work and giving support and advice where necessary, whilst also holding the contractor to account using the rectification process. “

The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER The clear-up commences at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER

A new five-year contract, with an option to extend for a further five years, and worth approximately £500,000 a year, was signed in November 2015. It included maintenance of open spaces, cemeteries, play areas, sports pitches and green flag parks.

The core works cover maintenance of grassed areas, herbaceous borders, hedges, bowling greens and equipped play areas.

Earlier this year the main contractor ISS Facility Services Landscaping, who took over the contract from The Landscape Group, was sold as part of a deal involving a London based private equity firm.

The new firm is called Tivoli ISS Facility Services Landscaping with 1,100 staff moving across.

Fenland Council’s spokesman said that one of the main problems facing Tivoli locally has been several break-ins to their compound.

“The last occurrence saw the theft of the ‘batwing’ grass cutting machine used to cover large areas of grass,” said the spokesman.

“This left the contractor using smaller, less efficient, machines to cut large areas of grass such as Manor Field, Wisbech Park and West End Park.

“Being less efficient has meant that they have fallen behind with the grass cutting rounds. Add in the recent rapid grass growth and the district has seen areas of long grass that, when cut, gives a poor impression.”

The spokesman said Tivoli had responded and “replacement equipment arrived several weeks after the theft, and an additional machine was also temporarily added to the contract to address the length of grass using a cut and collect technique.

“Having worked the past three weekends, including the bank holiday, the contractor is working to get on top of the problem and restore the original pattern of mowing rounds.

“Unfortunately where the longer grass does get cut, it will lay in situ giving the community an impression of a poor quality job.”

The spokesman added: “Please note; not all grass verges and green spaces in Fenland are the responsibility of Fenland District Council.”

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