Wakefield schools’ catering and cleaning company fined £100K

editorial image

A private company which delivers catering and cleaning at 86 Wakefield schools has been fined almost £100,000 by the council for failing to fulfil a raft of agreements.

ENGIE was handed a bumper deal to take on a number of council services, including building projects and property maintenance, in 2016. At the time it was the biggest privatisation in the local authority’s history.

Man jailed for spending £470k in stolen VAT on luxury cars and homes
Taxpayers were told that the move would save £10m over a decade, but two years into the contract, council officers have admitted they don’t know how much, if anything has been saved.

Instead of bringing “improvement and sustainability” a meeting of the council’s audit committee on Monday heard that ENGIE have not delivered on more than 900 specific obligations since the start of 2017.

The firm was also criticised for not presenting invoices accurately.

Kevin Fisher, from the council’s property and facilities management team, said: “There have been a number of challenges and failures relating to service delivery.

Four men charged in connection to fatal Brierley HGV crash
“The financial information we receive (from them) is poor at best. We are significantly struggling to understand where we are from a financial point of view.

“Last month ENGIE were looking at just short of £100,000 worth of penalties for failing to deliver services.”

The firm has been given until December to make significant improvements to the service and the council is having monthly meetings with ENGIE’s managing director, Wilfrid Petrie.

Glynn Humphries, service director for the environment described the situation as “frustrating” and cast doubt on the prospect of the £200m contract lasting the full 10 years.

The council could terminate the contract early, but at a significant cost to the taxpayer.

He said: “Yes, it’s been a challenge. Yes we’ve brought them to task. Is the arrangement still struggling? Yes it is.

“We are working with them and trying to bring their service up to a standard that’s acceptable.

Parents still facing ‘traffic chaos’ on school run
“Moving forward have we got confidence that the contract will be delivered (in full)? I can’t say 100 per cent.”

Because of the problems, Mr Humphries said that the cost or saving of the deal to the council would not be known until around the end of the financial year.

ENGIE were contacted for comment, but did not respond.

A total of 734 council staff had their contracts transferred to ENGIE when the deal was brokered two years ago.