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Oxford Council launches social enterprise

Oxford Council has announced that its direct services operations will turn into a council-owned social enterprise called Oxford Direct Services Ltd (ODS).

ODS will provide services including waste and recycling, street cleaning, car park operations, parks maintenance and road repairs, as well as additional services including garden waste collection, pest control, vehicle MOTs and building services.

Staff have transferred to the new enterprise on the same terms and conditions, pay and pension arrangements they have had with the council. The new company will be wholly owned by Oxford Council, and the council will be the sole shareholder. It will remain fully accountable to the council and its elected representatives.

The council also hopes that the new social enterprise company will benefit Oxford in other ways. They say it will offer a ‘skilful, reliable, established, experienced and locally-orientated workforce’ as well as secure ‘long-term locally-based employment prospects.’

Gordon Mitchell, chief executive, Oxford Council said: ‘The city council’s direct services team has long served the people of Oxford by providing high quality, reliable services. Not only that, it has been successful in the commercial world and in doing so has brought income to the council.

Now, as a social enterprise, owned entirely by the city council, ODS is set to expand its operations, benefiting all of its customers, including residents of Oxford.’

ODS is the ‘people’s company’, with 100% of its returns coming back to the city of Oxford, benefiting the community as a whole rather than private shareholders. That money will help offset the impact of the removal of government grant funding we receive, allowing us to maintain – and improve – council services.’

Simon Howick, managing director, Oxford direct services said: ‘ODS keeps the city running day and night. We empty your bins, clean the streets, maintain the parks; and maintain your property if you live in one of Oxford’s 7,800 council houses.’

The city council remains by far our largest customer and my number one focus will remain on continuing to improve the services we provide residents and businesses across the city. But we can also grow and continue to expand our commercial contracts with businesses and other organisations to generate additional income for the council, while at the same time continuing to innovate and becoming more efficient.’

Most ODS staff live in Oxford and so growing our business will also translate into increasing employment opportunities for local people.’

Caroline Glendinning UNISON Branch Secretary, Oxford City Branchsaid: ‘Unison would like to add that the creation of Oxford Direct Services has been a good example of how good partnership working can work for the benefit of both employee and employer, it has been a long road, but the outcomes have achieved financial stability for the organisation and job security for our members.’

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