Agenda item

Update on Medway Norse

This report outlines the partnership’s achievements and performance up to the end of the fourth quarter in its fourth year of trading.




Members considered a report which outlined the partnership’s achievements and performance up to the end of the fourth quarter in its fourth year of trading.


With regard to paragraph 4.4 of the report it was clarified that it was Norse Commercial Group who had recently been awarded the schools cleaning framework contract referred to and not Medway Norse as incorrectly stated in the report.


The following issues were raised:


·        Position of Council appointed Director on Medway Norse


As the Assistant Director Transformation who currently served as a Director of Medway Norse would be leaving the Council, a Member asked if the appointment sat with the post or the individual. He also queried whether there would be any Member input into the new appointment. Members were advised that the position sat with neither the post nor the individual. A replacement Medway Norse Director would be appointed by the Council but this would not necessarily be the new Assistant Director. An undertaking was given that Members would be consulted on the appointment as they had when it was originally made.


·        Chatham Bus Station Ticket Office


A Member expressed concern at the current situation whereby the vast majority of bus users were unable to buy tickets at the Chatham bus station ticket office. Officers advised that the Information Centre function had recently been transferred to Medway Norse and Arriva had since decided, for commercial reasons, to remove the ticket selling service. A Member asked that the Committee be kept updated on progress as this was a particular problem for parents with school age children.


·        Expansion of Joint Ventures in area


In response to a question about whether there were other joint ventures in the area possibly competing for the same contracts; Members were advised that there were no other local authority/Norse joint ventures east of Medway, with the nearest one being in Enfield.


·        Impact on workforce of Brexit


A Member asked if there were any concerns that Medway Norse’s high standards of service could be placed at risk if staff decided to leave as a result of Brexit. The Operations Director, Medway Norse replied that he had no immediate concerns about this issue and the numbers of staff affected by Brexit was small.


·        Grounds maintenance contract


A Member commented that concerns from the public and Members last year about this service did not appear to have led to any improvements. He asked if Medway Norse were confident they had sufficient resources to deliver the contract to the specifications expected. Reference was also made to the encroachment of trees onto public highways, including major routes. Officers undertook to look at the issues raised about the grounds maintenance contract but commented that in the last 12 months complaints had reduced and training had been provided for staff. Whilst Medway Norse needed to manage high expectations, on the whole the contract was delivered to agreed specifications and there were enough resources to do so. The tree maintenance budget was a separate budget and due to the level of funding available it was necessary to prioritise works.  A Member commented that grounds maintained standards were generally lower in other areas and carried out to a much higher standard in Medway.


·        Living Wage


A Member commended Medway Norse for absorbing national statutory living wage pay increases while still delivering the agreed surplus for the Council. The Operations Director commented that this had been difficult to achieve. It had required some minor reductions in staffing but the majority of affected staff had been redeployed.


·        Member surgeries


Members welcomed the fact that surgeries for Members to discuss operational Medway Norse matters would now be held in each of the 22 wards rather than at a central location. Medway Norse were asked to ensure ward members were aware of this change.


·        Local Business Particpation


Several Members asked for clarification on the figures in paragraph 8.1 of the report. Officers explained that the table set out the total spent by Medway Norse in Kent, broken down into the figures for Medway and Medway and Kent combined. It was agreed that future reports would make this clearer.





The Committee agreed to:


a)        note the report, and;


b)        request an update on the position regarding the Chatham Bus Station ticket office.

Supporting documents: