Milton Keynes Council severs contract with service provider Mouchel

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TROUBLED council contractor Mouchel has seen the vast majority of its responsibilities cancelled following a radical restructure of its contract with the authority.

Within the last half hour Milton Keynes Council issued a statement revealing that the infrastructure and business services group will no longer provide the substantial proportion of the council’s operational and back office functions.

The announcement follows severe criticism of Mouchel following revelations that the council did not know if the city’s bridges were safe or not.

Milton Keynes Council and Mouchel entered into an agreement in 2004, but today’s announcement stated ‘the original contract no longer allows the council sufficient flexibility to operate most effectively in what is a very different political and economic environment from when the contract was originally conceived’.

The vast majority of services currently provided by Mouchel will now be brought back to the council.

A new framework between the two partners will now run until 2018. It will see Mouchel continue to provide services such as software to manage business operations support (SAP) and other specialist services.

The new proposal is subject to due diligence, detailed negotiation and formal approval by council members and Mouchel’s Board. If agreed and approved, Mouchel staff would move back to the council at an appropriate time.

The arrangement would involve the council making an upfront payment to Mouchel, but it would cease to pay the Unitary Charge – an annual fee payable under the existing contract.

The council’s statement said that ‘overall, the change would save the council – and taxpayers – money’ and that the changes are not expected to affect services to the public.

Milton Keynes Council’s chief executive, David Hill, said: “Mouchel has successfully delivered significant benefits to the council over the years.

“However, the political and economic environment has changed dramatically over the past nine years and both Mouchel and the council agree that, as a result, the flexibility of the existing contract is insufficient to meet the council’s future requirements.”

And Mouchel’s partnership director, Michael Hodgson, added: “We have worked closely with the council for many years to help them deliver excellent services to their residents.

“Over the past 18 months we have looked at ways to provide additional benefits and added value through the services we already provide, in order to meet their changing requirements.

“Under the new framework, we would be in a position to provide the council with greater flexibility to respond to new and changing requirements.”