Auckland Council promises return to local contractors

Auckland Council promises return to local contractorsAuckland Council is heralding a new era in the maintenance of parks, buildings and open spaces after June 30, which will open the door for more local suppliers to be involved.

Finance and Performance Committee chair Cr Ross Clow says that when new maintenance contracts take effect on July 1, Aucklanders can expect to see more responsive, streamlined local maintenance services.

“One supplier will now manage the cleaning of a public toilet and, while they’re at the site, will ensure bins are emptied, lights fixed, and gates and doors locked or unlocked,” he says. “Until now, this has been done by different suppliers under different contractual arrangements.

“We are excited about the innovation this opportunity offers and using technology to take us into the future. We will be able to empty bins before they overflow by installing sensors and will install counters on public toilet doors to monitor use and schedule cleaning.”

Rodney’s Cr Greg Sayers says the whole idea is to produce better value for money and better local services for Aucklanders. There will be standardised levels of service across the city.

“I have pushed for suppliers to be subject to stronger auditing and reporting, and there will be independent Council staff charged with overseeing contract delivery rather than the suppliers policing themselves as they have been,” Cr Sayers says. “I am pleased this has been changed as previous self-auditing was open to abuse.

“Another victory is that the Rodney Local Board can create variations to the standard contract to better reflect our local needs, rather than having to operate to a one-size-fits-all model. I pushed this.

“In the new contracts, the suppliers are required to work with communities to promote local smaller suppliers where that is possible. This is good news for local businesses who can provide the skills needed. This was one way to ensure our rates flow back to our area.

“The only downside is that there weren’t any overall cost savings.”

Board chair Beth Houlbrooke says the number one complaint she receives on maintenance usually concerned walkways.

“We have a lot of walkways that fall between Auckland Transport and Parks’ areas of responsibility,” she says. “We have been assured that these new maintenance contracts should pick up those in a more ‘joined up’ way. We have all heard anecdotal evidence of one mowing contractor coming out to mow a reserve, while the roadside adjacent to that same reserve is left and a separate AT contractor comes out to do that. I would like to see these new contracts rolled into one job, one contractor.”

Ms Houlbrooke says the new contracts should allow the Local Board to use more local contractors, volunteers and social enterprise.

“The great centralisation of amalgamation seems to gradually be devolving back to communities, which is good to see.”

The three major types of contracts awarded were full facilities, which includes sportsfield renovation, parks, open spaces and building maintenance; arboriculture (tree maintenance); and ecological restoration. The new contracts will cover the whole Auckland region, but are structured in service areas aligned with local board boundaries.

The financial costs and full list of successful suppliers won’t be announced until the end of this month, when all contracts have been signed.