Author Topic: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....  (Read 53120 times)

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Offline Phil Chitty

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #140 on: December 19, 2014, 09:59:36 AM »
My guess would be that any French Connection would be something to do with the Wroughton Solar Project. EDF have a renewables division, and a joint venture is well possible.

Sensibly this would have to be through a separate company.

Offline Phil Chitty

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #141 on: May 07, 2015, 11:44:49 AM »
I couldn't help noticing that Tattershall in Toothill is being resurfaced - by CORMAC.

Cormac - wholly owned by Cornwall County Council, to service both the Council and trade in the open market.

Such a shame that SCS were not able to match this level of enterprise.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #142 on: May 07, 2015, 07:24:14 PM »
Yes, Phil, now you mention it I believe it was Cormac they re-laid our street, in the snow.  However they made a good job of it, efficient and it kept Mr Muggins entertained for a couple of days, that's worth a couple of K's of anyone's money!

The machinery was huge and I noted it came from Cornwall although I think one large machine came from Wales. 

Lawsons had the job of knocking down the RBL and that was another job well done apart form water leaking all over the road in the frosty weather and a few electric blackouts during the first couple of week. They used some big a machinery on that too. Nothing ended up being taken off site the rubble was all crushed down and remains flattened out across the site.
If yu want to see the series of photo's they are in an album on the Penhill News facebook page.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #143 on: May 07, 2015, 08:28:47 PM »
I couldn't help noticing that Tattershall in Toothill is being resurfaced - by CORMAC.

Cormac - wholly owned by Cornwall County Council, to service both the Council and trade in the open market.

Such a shame that SCS were not able to match this level of enterprise.

I don't think SCS have ever done their own surfacing (apart from footpaths). They don't have a planer, Blawknox paver or heavy rollers. They have always sub-contracted surfacing works - often to Rockstone.

To be fair Swindon is a very small authority compared to a much larger county council like Cornwall. It would have been difficult to justify the specialist machinery and labour as it wouldn't have been fully resourced in Swindon.

In the past, Cormac wouldn't have had a chance of winning work in Swindon as tenders were by invite only. SBC now advertise contracts on the SW Portal so any company registered can tender. There is quality element to the tenders, but this is mostly a box ticking exercise so lowest price usually wins.

Cormac's enterprise is a good thing for Cornish taxpayers so long as they do a good job. If they don't do a good job, clients will expect them to come back and do it again. I'm not convinced that SCS's workmanship was of a sufficient quality to take that risk.

I believe that SCS did win a small amount of private work, but nothing significant. Working for private clients would have meant a change in work ethic for the majority of SCS staff used to the union backed work to rule ethic. It was not unusual for SCS staff to sit on their backsides all morning waiting for concrete to arrive and then declare a tea break when it did. The lack of flexibility was not conducive to turning a profit.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #144 on: May 08, 2015, 08:38:07 AM »
Maybe in the now fairly distant past it might have been true for some SCS workers. That sort of behaviour has not happened for a long time now. For some reason the past week or two those old out of date mantras have risen again. 

I think there might have been a fair bit of waiting around for machinery up on the Legion site, but when it came they knuckled down.

But having huge machinery moved up from Cornwall and/or it's last place of hire isn't doing any good for those "Let's get rid of miles travelled"  thingy - sorry not very lucid this morning.

And those machines were BIG!
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #145 on: May 08, 2015, 09:48:53 AM »
Maybe in the now fairly distant past it might have been true for some SCS workers.

I'm talking about recent years. I'm not blaming the individual workers. It is/was the culture and I have seen it myself over and over again. Productively is a fraction of the equivalent private sector worker.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #146 on: May 08, 2015, 12:03:54 PM »
Ok, so lets say its true of some of the workers, though I knew a fair few of them in the past....surely the way forward was to tighten procedures so that you got a fair days work out of the employees and paid them a fair days wage? 

Under the last Labour government we saw a reduction of the SBC workforce from 6000  down to half of that. When the Tory's got in, they failed to see the reduction claimed Labour did nothing about it, when they had.  I'm basing this on who I knew disappearing as well as some number crunching.  Rod Bluh stood up in front of and audience of 300 or so at the SSP conference just a few years ago and said they would have to 'half' their workforce from 3000 to 1500. 

Well 'half' of what was left maybe, but in fact they were reducing the workforce to a quarter of what it had been just ten years ago.

Facing facts, that meant a lot of the 'historical' knowledge went with those people that had left and some jolly good workers - who worked, went with them. 

So it's not just a lack of numbers now but that loss of why things were planned and done the way they were was lost and some investment at that time has been a waste because of it.

Its all very well having contractors in, but that puts any say we might have further and further away, because once given the contract they will do it with no consideration to anyone else.

And that's just for the practical stuff - like you are talking about above, it gets worse if it's for a project within the community.

 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Swindon Commercial Services - I'm Curious.....
« Reply #147 on: May 08, 2015, 09:35:27 PM »
M, I think we are at cross purposes and are talking about completely different things.

I was talking about SCS and not SBC as a whole. In particular, I was referring to SCS Highways department. Other departments might have been stronger.

There is also a world of difference between contracting out administrative type services and construction work. Performance in relation to the admin type functions is difficult to measure.

Comparing the performance of construction companies is easy. A designer prepares detailed drawings and specifications and contractors tender to deliver a near identical product. In 30 years as an engineer I must have delivered an average of 6 projects per year. That is a total of 180 projects which have been fairly evenly split between SCS and private contractors. I can't think of a single job that SCS did well or cost effectively.

I am not necessary blaming individuals. The whole system was set up to under perform. SCS were managed like a council department. They weren't set up to perform in the real world. I know cases where SCS have taken over 3 years to submit an invoice for work done. In the real world private contractors face a monthly cash flow problem. They are in real danger of bankruptcy if they aren't paid on time. SCS were only interested in balancing the books at year end. They simply weren't geared up to work in the real world with real clients who only pay if the job is done properly.

I know of several jobs where thousands of pounds of taxpayers money was wasted and covered up. SCS would regularly ask sub-contractors to price a job based on the design drawings but without giving them the specification. The tendered price would look good value until work started when it would become apparent that the price was for vastly inferior products to those specified.

I even know of cases where the extent of work was halved during construction. Subcontractors would be paid in full within 30 days of submitting an invoice, but SCS wouldn't invoice the client department for several months. The client officer would pick up the fact that the sub-contractor had been massively overpaid, but by then it was too late.

In the rare cases where SCS won work based on lowest tender, they would regularly run over budget and simply invoice for a higher figure. Lowest tender was no indication of lowest final cost. The fact is that SCS always got paid regardless of quality or performance.

Try doing that with a private client and see where it gets you.