Agenda item

Update on the Commercialisation of the Vehicle Workshop

To provide Members with an update on the ongoing work to allow the vehicle workshop to carry car servicing from April 2020.


The Committee was informed that given the financial pressures that had been placed on Councils in recent years there had been a drive for local authorities to consider the way in which they operate and provide their services. This had resulted in Councils exploring other options for income generation such as the formation of trading entities to deliver Council services. There were a number of opportunities for the Council in terms of developing a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo) and following an analysis of opportunities it had been identified that the trading of vehicle workshop services would be a viable use. The aim will be to have the company in operation from 1 April 2020.


The Waste and Transport Manager advised that the rollout of the vehicle workshop services would be undertaken in a phased approach as outlined in section 2.2 of the report. In order to deliver the services from the vehicle workshop, works will need to be undertaken to the depot as set out in section 2.4 of the report.


It will be the intention to use Gravesham Borough Council staff resources to provide these services to the private sector via the LATCo; the transferal of staff was not being considered at this stage.


A detailed project plan and risk assessment had been undertaken to ensure that all requirements will be identified and addressed prior to the company commencing trading on 1 April 2020.


The proposal for the formation of the LATCo parent company will be presented to the Cabinet on 2 December 2019 and Full Council on 17 December 2019. If adopted, this will set the framework for the Council in terms of moving forward with the subsidiary companies. The business case and financial business plan for the vehicle workshop subsidiary will then be presented to the Cabinet in the New Year.


Members considered the report and highlighted the following:-


·         consideration needed to be given to customer safety when delivering services to the private sector from the depot;

·         a firm commitment needed to be obtained from Kent County Council (KCC) regarding the creation of a new vehicular access to the site via Thamesway;

·         where feasible, the works to the depot as outlined in section 2.4 of the report should be undertaken sooner than the proposed timescales in particular the creation of an MOT lane and new vehicular access;

·         analysis work should be undertaken to assess whether the trading entities will be financially successful. The Director (Corporate Services) advised that due to the significant decrease in the levels of government funding, the Service Review Team undertook an analysis of the services provided by the Council and whether there was a statutory duty to provide those services.  As part of the analysis, the Team also explored services which were provided by other local authorities and generating an income. Indicative modelling had been undertaken for the vehicle workshop subsidiary however the intention will be to finalise and present a business case and financial business plan to the Cabinet in the New Year; and

·         Members asked what impact the LATCo/trading entities will have on local businesses. The Director (Housing & Operations) advised that there would be limited impact on local businesses in the short term and went on to stress the importance of the fact that the vehicle workshop would be operating within a competitive market with the aim of providing a good quality reliable service to customers to provide a new revenue stream for the Council.  


The Director (Corporate Services) advised that the proposed name of the LACTo had been determined, and would be registered with Companies House following the Full Council meeting, should approval be given.


The Committee noted the report.


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