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New contracts to improve waterway experience

Boaters and other waterway visitors will see improvements to key customer services as we’ve agreed new better value contracts for day-to-day maintenance tasks such as grass cutting, waste collection and facility cleaning.

After a competitive tendering process we've agreed improved contracts with existing providers OCS Fountains for its Vegetation & Environmental Services and Biffa for its Waste Management. The contracts, between them worth over £10 million per year, will ensure greater consistency and give savings, which can be invested in other important maintenance works.

The contract with OCS Fountains started today and will cover grass cutting, maintenance of hedges and trees, cleaning of facilities and the collection of floating litter from some of the country's busiest urban waterways.

Consistent standards

As well as towpaths, moorings and lock sides the contract will see grass cut on public areas, picnic sites and reservoir embankments up to six times a year - the equivalent of 242 football pitches each time. Contractors will also carry out a regular programme of cleaning at all toilet and facility blocks as well as spending the equivalent of 160 working days per year clearing floating litter from the water.

The contract has been set up to be more efficient, replacing several regional contracts. As a result we will save around £1 million per year and visitors can expect to see more consistent standards across the network.

The Biffa contract will, for the first time, see all waste and hazardous material from our mooring sites, facilities blocks, offices and operational depots handled by one provider. The contract also started today and will see 58,000m3 of waste removed each year – enough to fill around 6,000 large skips.

More recycling

The contract will see the introduction of more recycling bins and increased sorting of waste disposed of in regular bins. From the outset a minimum of 50% of waste disposed of in bins and skips will be diverted from landfill with a target of increasing this to 90% over the course of the contract.

Importantly both contracts include measures for giving customers more detailed information on progress, for example, information on recycling rates at specific busy sites or user-friendly information on vegetation works.

The contracts were agreed following a competitive tendering process which saw six contractors bid in detail and interviewed for the work. Both contracts are for an initial five year period with the option of an additional two – longer agreements aimed at encouraging greater capital investment, innovation and improvement in services.

Real improvements

Vince Moran, operations director for the Trust, said: “These contracts will make a real difference to people's experience of the waterways, particularly boaters. We know that it's the day-to-day things that really matter to people and we're pleased that we've been able to agree contracts that deliver real improvements whilst freeing up money that can be spent on other important maintenance.

“It was a very competitive bidding process and that's only been a good thing for everyone that enjoys the waterways and we look forward to working with our partners over the coming years.”

Last Edited: 01 October 2013

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