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Grounds maintenance is about more than just cutting grass.
It is important that schools consider the following information before appointing a Grounds maintenance contractor.
It is necessary to calculate the whole life value of any contract, not just the first year's expenditure. For example, an aggregate spend of £3,000 over four years would give a total contract value of £12,000. Therefore as the contract is likely to be worth over £5,000, schools should seek three competitive quotations in order to comply with contract regulations.
Groomfields, the in-house provider, are exempt from the competitive process as they have already demonstrated to the Council that they are a best value provider.
When letting your grounds maintenance contract you will need to prepare a full specification which is manageable, comprehensive and should include:
- a map of the area to be covered with details such as grass areas, flowerbeds and hedges
- what you want doing and when (grass cutting, weeding, hedge cutting, line marking etc.)
- frequency of operations
- any special requirements
Just as importantly, you will need to prepare a supplier specification to ensure the contractor you select is qualified to work in your school. Minimum requirements should include:
- written CRB approvals for all staff who will be working on the school premises
- all relevant certification, especially for the use of pesticides under contract on school grounds (PA1 and PA6) which are required by law
- references, to enable you to determine ability to deliver the contract
- public liability insurance cover with a minimum value of £5 million
- a list of current machinery to cover all types of work on your school and relevant documentation to show staff have received appropriate training to use it
- a written statement advising how the company will cover for sickness and holiday
- risk assessments for all activities
- a copy of the company's current health and safety policy.
When selecting a contractor, you should not make cost your principle selection criteria. Whilst cost is an important factor, it should not compromise the safety or reliability of the service you are purchasing. The adage that you get what you pay for applies and if the service is cheap it is often because the contractor has cut corners to reduce the price.
Duration of contract
If you are appointing a new contractor, it is advisable to limit the first contract to one year to ensure they can provide the service you require. The length of any subsequent contract is at your discretion. Normally three years is a reasonable duration.
You should also ensure that you include a reasonable termination clause in your contract. One months notice is advised during the first year. For any subsequent contract, the notice period can be extended to three months once you have confidence in your contractor.
You should appoint an individual in the school to be the nominated liaison person for the contractor. This individual will be responsible for monitoring the contractor's performance. Alternatively, you may wish to procure the services of a monitoring officer from the Council's Grounds Management Service.
Groomfields and Grounds Management Services
CC1104, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge, CB3 0AP
Richard Ware - Head of Groomfields and Grounds Management Services
Tel: 01223 703509
Richard Rice - Technical Officer - Grounds Management Services
Tel: 01223 475970
Joe Swindells - Technical Officer - Grounds Management Service
Tel: 07881 833532