In November 2011 Mendip District Council carried out a ground-breaking review of the way in which it procured services – aiming for much greater efficiency by letting a range of related services to one contractor. Of equal importance, the Council was looking for a contractor who would provide cost flexibility and transparency in a climate where budgets were likely to be subject to further pressure.
Mendip DC officers began the ‘Competitive Dialogue’ process with a number of contractors in April 2012 which concluded with the appointment of idverde, and the contract commenced on 1st November 2012 for a period of 10 years.
The contract area covers approximately 275 square miles, encompassing the picturesque cathedral city of Wells and the four main towns of Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Frome, and Street.
The services delivered by idverde to Mendip District Council are: grounds maintenance, arboriculture, street cleansing, facilities management, civil engineering, market stall works, and maintenance of public conveniences. Together, these are known as the ‘core services’.
idverde employs 53 staff in Mendip, including a team of 14 full time grounds maintenance staff, a Town Ranger (based in Shepton Mallet), and an apprentice. They are supported by seasonal staff in peak season to ensure adequate coverage is provided over the summer period when the area receives an influx of visitors, especially during the famous Glastonbury Festival in June.
Our teams are responsible for cutting over 1.18 million square metres of grass, including general amenity grass, highway verges, and grass in cemeteries and closed churchyards. They also carry out tasks such as shrub and hedge maintenance. Green waste generated during our operations is sent to the Council’s local composting facility, thereby helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the contract.
Our teams also assist with events such as the Wells Food Festival, the Children’s Dance Festival on Wells Cathedral Green, and numerous winter carnivals, helping to ensure that the events are run smoothly and safely, and that the area is returned to a clean and tidy state afterwards. This is particularly challenging around the time of the Glastonbury Music Festival when over 170,000 festival-goers descend upon the area around Glastonbury.
SERVICING MENDIP’S NEIGHBOURHOODS
A cornerstone of idverde’s proposal to Mendip District Council was to take a new, more efficient and community-centred approach. Instead of delivering the services as separate streams, we created Neighbourhood Teams. These consist of multi-skilled operatives who are responsible for grounds maintenance, street cleansing, civil engineering and other services within their allocated neighbourhoods, which are often their home neighbourhoods too.
The teams have full responsibility for a range of maintenance activities in their area, enabling them to identify any issues and solve them immediately, rather than needing to report it to a different service team.
Key reasons why Mendip chose idverde were our ability to self-deliver all these services and therefore provide local employment; our transparent approach to future reductions in budget through our ‘Change Mechanism’; our community-focused Neighbourhood structure; and our specific proposals to add social value to Mendip’s communities through apprenticeships and work experience.
This range of requirements has necessitated our staff developing a wide range of skills to cover the works required within their area of work. Regular development reviews are carried out and appropriate training provided to ensure continuing high standards for our client, as well as supporting our staff members’ own development aspirations.