ENGIE make 'significant progress' on Wakefield Council contract

A property maintenance firm tasked with looking after Wakefield Council's buildings and schools has drastically improved its performance, the local authority has said.

By David Spereall
Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th April 2019, 12:39 pm

ENGIE was criticised in September last year when it was revealed it had failed to deliver on more than 900 contractual obligations since the start of its £200m deal with the council, which was signed in 2016.

The company, which also does school catering, was given a financial penalty as a result.

But now Wakefield Council says that the picture has completely changed since an improvement plan was put in place.

The council had said last September that were ENGIE had failed on hundreds of contractual points, but insists now that the picture has changed.

ENGIE took on an extra 85 temporary staff to help complete a backlog of repairs, and it has refreshed its computer systems to ensure work is completed more quickly, the authority's audit committee heard on Monday.

The financial information the firm provides, which was described as "poor at best" in September, is now "more accurate", councillors were told.

Concerns about a lack of compliance with health and safety have also been addressed.

Although some contractual obligations remain incomplete, including some around the administration of pensions, the council said that the satisfaction of ENGIE's clients had improved.

ENGIE CEO Wilfrid Petrie. Senior figures from the company are meeting council officers every fortnight.

Glynn Humphries, the authority's service director for the environment, said: "There's been a big shift over the last three to six months. They've changed and they've changed quickly.

"We're meeting with them every two weeks and that's a personal commitment from them.

"Those meetings won't stop until we've got the action we want to happen.

"We've been on a bit of a journey over the last 12 months, and we've seen significant progress.

"I have to be honest - there's work still to do - but that applies to other contracts as well. With any major contract it's always a moving piece.

"There's a lot of commitment from the council to make it work, and there's commitment from ENGIE to make it work as well.

"We're much more comfortable now we know our position."

The company was also praised for going "above and beyond expectations" with its corporate social responsibility policy.

This has included running holiday food clubs for schoolchildren and supporting the council's promotion of apprenticeships.

Local Democracy Reporting Service