Merton Council, SLWP and idverde

 

SWLP

Merton Council has entered into a Inter Authority Agreement with Croydon Council, Kingston Council and Sutton Council to form the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP). The activities of SLWP include grounds maintenance.

 

idverde Limited

On 17 January 2017, Croydon Council entered into a 'Contract for grounds maintenance (Lot 2)' (the Contract) with idverde Limited. SLWP had delegated to Croydon Council the function of entering into the Contract as the contracting authority on behalf of SLWP.

 

idverde Limited describes the group of companies of which it is the holding company as a leading provider of specialist clean and green services, delivering grounds management, arboriculture, cleansing, park management & consultancy, facilities management and landscape construction services. Before 19 October 2016, idverde Limited was known as The Landscape Group Limited. It was incorporated in 1998 and by 2017 reported annual turnover of about £ 75 million (2016 - £ 58 million) and operating profits of about £ 1.5 million (2016 - £ 3.6 million) on reported net assets of about £ 21 million (31 December 2016 - £ 19 million). All of its turnover arose in the UK and it employed on average 1,508 people (2016 - 1,235 people) during 2016, about 91% (2016 - 95%) of them as field operatives including managers.

 

At the end of 2017, idverde Limited was wholly owned by idverde Holdings Limited (an intermediate holding company), idverde UK Limited (the UK holding company), and idverde SAS (registered in France). idverde was owned and controlled by Armorica SAS (registered in France), a company under the control of Chequers Capital XVI (registered in France). idverde Limited accounted for the majority of idverde UK Limited's 2017 turnover of about £ 106 million.

 

When idverde acquired The Landscape Group in the UK, it was, by some margin, France’s largest provider of landscape construction and grounds maintenance services, five times the size of its nearest competitor. idverde was created in February 2014 following the buy-out of the French landscape construction and grounds maintenance activities of international service group ISS, backed by Paris-based investor Chequers Capital. In March 2018, Chequers Capital XVI sold its interest in Armorica SAS to Core Equity Holdings Limited, a private equity fund that reportedly supported a management plan to further develop the group on a pan-European basis.

 

The Contract

idverde Limited states that the Contract is for an initial term of 8 years until January 2025, with two further 8 year extension periods to January 2041. SLWP has published a redacted version of the Contract. The services under the Contract include allotment maintenance and management, one part of Horticultural Services, set out in paragraph 5.24 of Schedule 1 (Specification) to the Contract. That paragraph is reproduced below. idverde Limited is the 'Contractor'. The 'Authorised Officer' is a person (or persons) notified from time to time by Croydon Council to idverde Limited. The 'Boroughs' are those of Merton, Croydon, Kingston and Sutton. The 'Annual Report' refers to an annual report to be provided by the Contractor to the Authorised Officer. Schedule 5 (Payment Mechansim) to the Contract has not been published, but idverde Limited is to be paid for the Horticultural Services by way of a 'Core' and 'Ad Hoc' Horticultural Services Payment.

 

5.24 Allotment Maintenance and Management

 

5.24.1 The Contractor shall carry out cutting of pathways and hedges, mowing and maintenance at all allotment sites (not including allotment plots). The details of allotment sites for Merton and Sutton are supplied in Appendices H1, H8 and H20 for Sutton and Appendix H2 and H7 for Merton.

 

5.24.2 The Contractor shall manage the adminstration of relevant allotment tenancies, inclduing inspection and non-cultivation notices, notices to quit, supply and issue of keys, processing tenancy agreements, and dispute resolution. The Contractor shall collect a key rental deposit in respect of new allotment tenancies, and shall remiburse this deposit to each tenant upon surrender of the relevant allotment site.

 

5.24.3 The Contractor shall invoice allotment tenants on an annual basis, and collect rent acting as agent on behalf of the Boroughs. The Contractor shall pay all monies received in respect of rent allotment tenancies for each Borough, and shall make an annual payment to each Borough for the amount of allotment rent received, net of any key rental deposit payments in respect of paragraph 5.24.2. Such payment shall be made in April each year to cover the period April - March in the preceding financial year in accordance with paragraph 2.2 of Schedule 5 (Payment Mechanism). For the avoidance of doubt, this shall be the actual amounts of rent paid by each allotment tenant for the full year tenancy of the allotment, and shall not be net of any of the maintenance and administration costs borne by the Contractor. All such costs are to be included within the core Horticultural Services Payment.

 

5.24.4 The Contractor shall provide an inventory of allotment tenancies showing the status of rent paid to date as part of the Annual Report.

 

5.24.5 The Contractor shall take responsibility for management of water at all allotment sites including turning the water off and on to coincide with the growing season and to prevent freezing and burst pipes.

 

5.24.6 The Contractor shall report leaking pipes, dip tanks and taps to the Authorised Officer.

 

5.24.7 The Contractor shall minimise use of water by regularly monitoring water consumption and investigating unexpected water use.

 

5.24.8 The Contractor shall clear waste bays on allotments sites in Merton on a bi-monthly basis.