Connaught clients set up in-house firms to save jobs

Aaron Morby 14 years ago

Two housing association have saved the jobs of hundreds of ex-Connaught workers by forming in-house maintenance firms.

Housing associations, One Vision in Sefton and Paradigm in Buckinghamshire, have swiftly set up new maintenance operations to re-hire former Connaught workers.

The move comes as Bullock Construction was named as the new maintenance contractor for A1 Housing in Bassetlaw, potentially saving a further 50 jobs.

These deals have been struck as many housing associations and local authorities are being advised by lawyers that they may have to retender contracts to avoid breaching EU tendering laws.

This will be a serious blow to Morgan Sindall, which two weeks ago claimed to have bought most of Connaught’s contracts as part of a £28m deal with administrators KPMG.

So far its is believed that only a handful of the near 100 contracts have been transfered to Morgan Sindall’s maintenance arm Lovell.

In Buckinghamshire, 157 Connaught staff  working for Chesham based Paradigm Housing Association will be transferred to its newly formed maintenance services contractor.

Paradigm’s management drew up detailed contingency plans when rumours first spread about the viability of Connaught’s Partnership business.

David Smith, Paradigm’s operations director, said: “We have tried hard to respond quickly to secure jobs, and stabilise our maintenance service.

“We will now build on that achievement to see how we can improve services in the future.

Paradigm said the creation of the new company avoided the maintenance service being passed to a contractor the housing association did not choose.

On Merseyside, Sefton housing association One Vision is planning to re-hire 100 Connaught workers for its new in-house maintenance arm.

Connaught held the repairs contract for One Vision Housing, which runs more than 11,000 properties in Sefton, Merseyside.

One Vision Housing chief executive Roy Williams said: “By managing our repairs and maintenance service directly in-house, we have opted to move away from the responsive repairs contractor model ensuring a more practical and effective service for our customers.”

The collapse of Connaught led to 200 workers being made redundant in Sefton.

Construction union UCATT has been working closely with the housing association to try to save jobs.

George Guy, regional secretary of UCATT’s North West Region, said: “The decision by One Vision to take their repairs service in-house is warmly welcomed.

“It will be in the best interests of both tenants and workers. It is hoped that as many as possible of the former Connaught workforce, who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, will eventually find new employment directly with One Vision.”

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