Six hundred jobs safe as council sticks with local workers

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SIX hundred Yorkshire jobs have been safeguarded after a Sheffield-based company beat national competition to win a major contract worth around £102 million.

Kier Services has been appointed to provide the repairs and maintenance service to around 42,000 Sheffield Council tenants for the next three years, with an option to extend this term by a further two years.

The company said the contract would safeguard 600 Sheffield jobs and would mean a speedier, more efficient response to maintenance and repair issues across the city.

The contract is currently delivered by Kier Sheffield LLP, a joint venture formed in 2003 between the Council and Kier, which is due to expire at the end of March.

The new contract with Kier Services covers emergency repairs and general maintenance as well as repairs to gas and electrics, heating, lifts and stair lifts to council housing as well as the maintenance of un-adopted highways, footpaths and car parks.

Kier call centre staff will be transferred into the Council by April 1 as part of a “seamless handover” with no changes in the way tenants can report or enquire about repairs, said a council spokesman.

The spokesman added: “Kier intends to make further improvements to the repairs and maintenance service in a number of areas, including better use of technology for community technicians, and move to a community-based delivery model to offer improvements through smarter working, lower transport costs and reduced carbon emissions.”

The new “community focused” service will also continue the handyperson service. Launched in February 2013 in the south west and east of the city, it has now been extended to the whole city.

This service aims to help tenants aged over 60 or with a disability or severe health problem, with smaller jobs in their home that they cannot manage themselves.

Kier emerged as the preferred bidder last November following a national tender for the contract. They have been in discussions with the Council since then to agree the finer details of the contract and the new contract has now been signed.

Councillor Harry Harpham, the Council’s Cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods said: “We went through a thorough tendering process and Kier was chosen as the preferred bidder against three other major companies.

“Discussions have taken place to agree all the details of the contract before we were in a position to sign the new contract. This will provide welcome continuity for Council house tenants who have been used to the service provided by Kier in the last few years. This will also retain much-needed local employment and new training opportunities for young people in the city.”

The end of this month marks the closure of the council’s Decent Homes scheme which has seen almost 39,000 homes extensively improved, including new kitchens and bathrooms.

The council recently outlined a five-year, £300m investment programme that will see communal improvements to around 10,000 properties, a new roofing programme for nearly 32,000 homes and a further 6,000 getting heating upgrades. Local businesses can bid for contracts.