Havant council set to become first on south coast to set up profit-making joint venture company

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  • Big decisions ahead for authority that must save £1.4m
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TWO major projects aimed at saving a council £1.4m and protecting public services have moved a step closer.

Havant Borough Council is poised to become the first authority on the south coast to set up a profit-making joint venture company (JVC).

It would mean 120 staff working in operational services – which include refuse collection, ground maintenance, and street cleaning – would be working from April for the new company, which would be partly owned by the council.

The new company could offer work commercially – such as trade waste – and council officials say it could double the turnover of operational services within five years.

Last night Cllr Tony Briggs, deputy leader, told The News there would be no job losses and it could, in fact, increase jobs as the depot in Havant could compete for more work.

Meanwhile, the council is also in negotiations about working with four other councils – Hart, Mendip, South Oxfordshire, and Vale of White Horse – to potentially outsource revenues, benefits, HR, licensing services, customer services, finance, property and facilities management.

Revenue and benefits is currently outsourced to Capita, but the contract is coming to an end.

Cllr Briggs said the feedback from staff had been ‘very positive’ regarding the JVC plan, which will be decided on January 20.

He added: ‘They will stay doing the same job in the same place that they have done for the last 10 or 15 years.’

Steve Perkins, executive head of environmental services, said: ‘It’s all managed here locally. The local members and officers still have their part to play.’

They said residents will see no difference in the service provided.

A council meeting last night heard services could be cut if the five authorities project was not investigated.

But opposition parties demanded to be kept in the loop with updates about the five authorities deal.

‘We are on a conveyor belt to making a crucial decision which is going to affect our employees,’ said Lib Dem Cllr Faith Ponsonby.

‘I don’t want to stop it, but I want more information.’

Cabinet member Mike Fairhurst stressed negotiations were commercially sensitive at this stage.

After the meeting, Labour Cllr Ralph Cousins said: ‘It’s going into the unknown.

‘But we have got to do something. Budgets are getting tighter.’