Downer keeps parks contract

Downer has retained the Waitaki District Council parks maintenance contract it won four years ago, but faces pressure to perform after falling short of expectations at times during its first tenure.

The company was awarded a contract for $2.36million a year for three years, with the options of two lots of two-year renewals, on Wednesday at a public excluded council session.

Downer’s was one of five tenders put forward when expressions of interest were called in November.

Services under the contract include, but are not limited to: grass and sports field maintenance; gardens; trees; irrigation; furniture; memorial and structures maintenance; and playground maintenance.

The first time the council took the contract — previously held by Whitestone Contracting Ltd — to the market, in 2016, Downer won it with a tender of $1.6million a year.

The changes saved ratepayers $450,000 a year for the duration of the contract,

but controversy followed when Downer struggled to keep up with its maintenance programme shortly after being awarded the contract.

It drew strong criticism from Mayor Gary Kircher at the time and again in February this year, when he joined ratepayers voicing their displeasure over the state of Oamaru’s public spaces.

He said the contractor would be closely monitored,

and that it had ‘‘given very strong assurances that they will be more responsive and that the right resources will be applied far more quickly ...’’.

Downer facilities management general manager Grady Cameron said it was confident in its ability

and that it had ‘‘made a big investment in plant recently to increase speed and contingency’’.

The contract starts on July 1.

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