Following a strategic review of Swindon Commercial Services Ltd. (SCS), a proposal about the future direction of the company will be considered at a Special Cabinet meeting on 26 June.
The proposal will recommend retaining SCS as a smaller specialist wholly-owned council company, concentrating its services on new and emerging green energy markets where there is potential for growth (this includes the operations of DW Dunn Limited) and transferring, back to the Council, the majority of the front-line and support services provided by SCS.
The main reason for considering this proposal now is the desire to focus efforts on those emerging areas of external trading which have potential for growth, such as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), and renewable energy such as Photovoltaic (PV) cells.
The transfer of the remaining operational and support services back to the Council is intended to enable it to respond to current economic circumstances and develop fully integrated, high quality services that support its aspiration to work more effectively with residents at a local level.
Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Strategic Projects and Transformation, Cllr Mike Bawden said: “I believe it is prudent and sensible to re-focus efforts on those areas where we believe there is potential for growth and bring other services back in house.
"I have no doubt that this will give us more flexibility to respond to the challenging financial environment we, like all councils, are facing while delivering quality public services at a local level.”
Should Cabinet members decide to support the recommendations, it is expected that the proposal will then be submitted for final approval either to Special Committee in early July or to Council on 18 July.
Consultation with trade unions, groups and individuals will begin immediately after the member decision making process has been completed and will be in accordance with the decision taken.
If the proposal is approved it will involve the transfer of approximately 550 staff under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006).
In response to the report Councillor Des Moffatt, Swindon Labour Group’s Shadow Lead for Resources, said: “I am not convinced that is the right time to bring large functions of Swindon Commercial Services back in-house and therefore delivered directly by the Council.
"This is firstly because I do not believe the projected financial savings outlined by the Cabinet Member for Strategic Projects in his report are deliverable and this therefore undermines the benefits of these functions being delivered directly by the Council.
"I also think part of the reason why Swindon Commercial Services has struggled in recent years is because the Council has failed to properly work with them to protect core frontline services while delivering financial savings.
"If Labour were in charge of the Council I would be recommending to continue with SCS delivering its current functions and to instruct council officers to work much more closely and in cooperation with SCS in making the company’s business plan work. And I would recommend that the Council continues to review Swindon Commercial Services performance, but I would not support taking away any functions currently delivered by SCS at this time.”