UP TO 70 jobs could go at the firm which provides the bulk of services for Swindon Council as it strives to deal with reduced income.
Swindon Commercial Services Ltd (SCS), which employs about 770 people, has started a staff consultation on plans to restructure to cope with expected ongoing reduced funding from Swindon Council, its main client, as well as other public sector clients.
The firm, based at Waterside Park, at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, provides Swindon Council’s Streetsmart services, such as waste and recycling collection, highways maintenance, and grass-cutting, and also maintains council houses and a construction division that builds facilities such as schools.
SCS managing director Bill Fisher said the firm would review posts across the board, including managers and office support staff, with the aim of the new structure coming into operation on April 1.
He said: “If Swindon Borough Council is under financial pressure it does rub off on its delivery partners and we’re one of their biggest, so if they have less to spend we have less income to pay staff. So there’s a knock-on effect of public service pressures.
“As an independent company, we’re working out there to replace this historic income – local government income – by meeting new customers out there and trying to offer them all of our services.”
Mr Fisher said an official consultation with staff and unions started last week and he was personally aiming to explain the situation to all staff in groups of about 50 to 60 over the next few days.
He said one key point of discussion would be the process in which the reductions should come about, adding: “We will do it in the least damaging way, firstly to my staff, secondly to my customers – so in that respect Swindon Borough Council is a customer – and lastly we will do it in the least damaging way to the public.
“So we won’t see roads go ungritted or anything like that.”
Mr Fisher said the review was about ensuring the firm was best placed to meet the needs of customers, not about achieving savings to plug a budget gap, adding that the firm is still profitable.
Coun Des Moffatt, the Labour group’s finance lead, said he would speak to his colleagues and senior council officers to prevent some of the possible job losses, adding that Swindon needed more redundancies “like a hole in the head”.
He said: “In particular I’m very concerned we’re losing 70.
“These aren’t pen-pushers, they’re the real people who fix buildings, who mend holes in the road, who collect rubbish, who cut grass and hedges. That’s very, very disappointing.”