Council’s bargain hunt saves a bomb

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A SENSIBLE housekeeping review is well on the way to saving council taxpayers more than £400,000.

As well as buying cheaper cleaning products and planning to bolt the town hall doors at midnight, the council is changing the way it empties its rubbish bins and is shopping around for cheaper gas and electricity.

Another key saving could come from changes to security systems and services.

Calderdale Council uses 36 separate suppliers to provide security at offices, libraries, community centres and other public buildings.

In some cases no formal contracts are in place resulting in a fragmented service with variable costs, according to an investigation.

But changes are on the cards as a result of swift progress on the Facilities Management Transformation and Cost Reduction Programmes.

It aims to consolidate the number of security suppliers and look for alternative ways of providing the service, according to the latest report to the council’s resources panel.

That would save £35,674 during 2011/12 and another £10,000 a year could come from reorganising the “largely uncontrolled and inconsistent” system of purchasing cleaning materials.

“Using multiple suppliers does not deliver the best value in cost and quality terms - there are different costs for the same or different cleaning products.”

Fully closing Halifax Town Hall at night could save £64,775 on porters and £116,000 by better managing building repairs and maintenance.

“The gatekeeper process for all repairs and maintenance up to £5,000 went live in August and after savings achieved are significantly ahead of target.”

But the biggest saving, perhaps £244,000 a year, is expected to be achieved by amending the contract the council has with Calder Valley Skip Hire, which collects and disposes of refuse from public buildings.

“The facilities management programme is intended to deliver cost reductions of £2 million in a full year, through smarter procurement, changing working patterns and operational improvements.”

The first six changes were intended to achieve quick savings and will be followed by another 13 projects, according to the report by economy and environment director Ian Gray.