Contractors ordered to pay back £7,000 in six week period for failing to keep Fenland’s grass and open spaces up to standard

Contractors at work this summer at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo

Contractors at work this summer at Eastwood Cemetery in March as the overgrown grass gets cut. Photo(s): HARRY RUTTER - Credit: Archant

Contractors awarded a five year, £2.5 million deal to keep Fenland’s parks and open spaces tidy were forced to pay back £7,000 in penalties over a six week period.

Faced with growing anger and mounting complaints, the council issued around 30 “rectification and default notices” in May and followed this up with 40 such notices within the first fortnight on June.

The figures were revealed in a report to councillors which pointed out that “this level of formal contract default and rectification notices is the highest level recorded.

“It reflects the issues that our contractor is currently facing.

“Each notice imposes a small financial penalty on the contractor and is a clear, formal and contractual reflection on their performance.”

The contractor had been criticised by MP Steve Barclay who believes that Tivoli, into their third year of the contract, 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 said last month.

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A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately Tivoli Group Ltd informed us that it was a victim of a serious crime earlier this year which resulted in the theft of most of their plant and equipment.

“Despite having an extensive supplier network, the timing of this theft came when the industry is procuring its requirements for the forthcoming season leading to a lack of available plant from their suppliers, slowing down the procurement process.

“This led to all works being delayed on the Fenland contract and the resulting dissatisfaction of our local residents.”

The council says it has been working closely with Tivoli to improve the service across Fenland.

“Some of the initiatives already put in place are changes to working hours and practices of the grass cutting teams, additional labour and management support and a wider network of available plant and equipment,” said the spokesman.

“With regards to current performance, grass is being cut per the council’s specification and on time.”

Fenland Council pointed out that the “halt in grass growth due to the hot weather” had helped.

“Over the quieter winter period, Tivoli has assured the council that they will take the opportunity to carry out an extensive review of how they plan to deliver the grass cutting services in 2019, ensuring no repeat of the issues that occurred this year,” the spokesman added.