Local businesses vie for county-wide joint venture with Powys County Council

A consortium of local Mid Wales businesses is planning to submit proposals to take on a multi-million pound joint venture with Powys County Council as part of the authority’s plans to drive financial and efficiency savings.

The group of local businesses wants to keep the work and business created from the joint venture (JV) in the county, with plans for new jobs and investment as a result.

Powys County Council published a “Soft Market Test” in May this year to evaluate interest in a JV to run its property services for 10 years, which includes 5,400 tenanted homes, public buildings and commercial properties throughout the county.

It is understood a number of large blue-chip companies have already expressed an interest. The deal would see the private sector taking on board work and services currently undertaken by the council which needs to make millions of pounds in savings.

The consortium, made up of local companies ranging from building supplies to electrical contractors, builders to architects and others wants to ensure the business created by the JV is maintained locally in the area.

“This is a very significant JV by Powys County Council which we as a group of local Powys businesses believe can be undertaken by companies based within the area,” said Nick Evans of Newtown-based EvaBuild.

“The council has gone out with a soft market test which is essentially testing the water to see what interest there is for someone to undertake the joint venture before it goes out to formal tender.

“We are demonstrating that this sort of work can be undertaken professionally and efficiently by a consortium of local businesses, helping ensure value for money and savings for the council at a time when it needs to make significant cuts. It also ensures the work needed is kept within the area with the benefits maintained for the local people – the council taxpayers.”

He added: “We know we are going to be up against large blue chip companies from throughout the UK, but we also know we can offer a real alternative. We are a consortium of local people and businesses who live and work here and understand our county and the council services that we’d be working on.”

Businesses involved so far include EvaBuild, Boys and Boden, EOM, Hughes Architects and J.A.Morgan Builders. Others are also involved in the initial process.

“We would be ensuring local jobs are maintained to undertake the property services work as well as the keeping the Powys pound in Powys.”

The contract is for 10 years, although the soft market test document suggests it could be extended by five years and expanded to other council services, including catering, clearing and grounds maintenance.

The winning bidder would have ensure energy saving work is undertaken as part of the property services element, including making low carbon energy solutions.

Doug Hughes of Hughes Architects is also involved in the consortium. “This is a major undertaking by Powys County Council as part of its efficiency drive and we believe as local businesses we can help achieve this while ensuring we keep all the work locally in the area along with the investment made as a result,” he said.

The council states in its initial documentation about the JV: “This option was seen to have the highest potential for the Council to gain the investment it needs whilst retaining the advantages of the current delivery model, generate savings, and provide resilience and lower risk.”

It adds: “The council would retain some ownership of the service and part of its involvement would be to provide the necessary expertise to enable the Joint Venture to deliver services in such a rural area. It is felt that the specific challenges presented by both the geography and infrastructure within Powys require a different approach to that in many other areas of the country.”

Mr Evans said these statements demonstrated how a local consortium of local businesses already understood and had demonstrable experience of working and providing such services in a “rural area.”

“We will be seeking to keep these services within Powys, providing tax payers and the council with the local services they want and need, efficiently,” he said.