Posted: 5 April 2019

Following a competitive EU-compliant procurement process, TSS was engaged by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) to provide an assessment of its grounds maintenance service delivery options.

The SLDC Grounds Maintenance Contract was due to expire, and the Council, therefore, needed to determine whether to extend the current arrangement with its existing supplier or to re-procure the service.

TSS developed a four-step Options Appraisal methodology which was based on the HM Treasury Green Book “Public Sector Business Cases Five Case Model and the “General Guidance on Options Appraisal” issued by CIPFA (The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy). Our methodology ensured that our Options Appraisal provided SLDC with robust, comprehensive and relevant information to enable informed and transparent decisions to be made.

We assessed the future service requirements including:

  • the content and scope of the works
  • funding availability
  • interventions and future service challenges expansion of the client base-third party/external income opportunities
  • cross border working
  • community involvement/support
  • service integration and service delivery synergies with other street-based services contractor client/roles and responsibilities
  • governance, monitoring and reporting arrangements.

It was important that we considered the local context as part of our assessment. We, therefore, completed a detailed review of the service and sought the views of a wide representative range of stakeholders in respect of the service provided and potential areas for improvement.

Our evaluation of the potential options encompassed both suitability and cost, and the potential synergies with other street-based Council services. We considered a full range of service delivery options, as follows:

Option A: Extend the current arrangements (“As Is – Do Nothing”)

Option B: Extend the current arrangements subject to a contract refresh

Option C: Re-procure the service (Measured Term Contract)

Option D: Shared services

Option E: In- house

Option F: Joint Venture

Option G: Local Authority Trading Company

Option H: Local Authority Commercial Trading Company

After careful review, our recommended preferred option in respect to both suitability and cost was for the contract to be extended subject to a contract refresh (Option B).

The previous traditional contract arrangement had focused solely on output measures, with the key performance indicators (KPI) being limited to the quality and timeliness of the works. In moving the service forward and in providing for the necessary step change in making the best use to limited and diminishing resources, we proposed that the extension to the contract should incorporate four aspects for service delivery, namely:

  • Inputs – resources deployed
  • Processes – methods of working and systems, operational structures, site details
  • Outputs – measured productivity
  • Outcomes – satisfaction of wider service needs and SLDC’s corporate aims and objectives.

We recommended that formal KPI reporting arrangements should be formally agreed and adopted by SLDC and their incumbent contractor.

As an added value benefit over and above that which was contained in the original brief, TSS provided SLDC with the framework for an Annual Business Planning process, enhanced governance arrangements and a draft for the first year Business Plan (i.e. both the “what” & the “how”).

The evaluation, background information, report and recommendations provided by TSS was well received by SLDC. The Council was confident in moving forward with the new grounds maintenance contract arrangements. Councillors and officers commented on the quality of the work undertaken by TSS and showed their appreciation by stating:

“Thank you again for the work TSS did for us. TSS has provided a significant amount of expertise to provide SLDC with a solid direction for grounds maintenance over the next seven years” 

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