New staff mutual organisation manages key council services

Published: 1 October 2015

Today marks the start of an exciting new era in the provision of public services in Wandsworth with the launch of a charitable social enterprise that is now running an array of key town hall functions.

The newly established leisure services staff mutual ‘Enable’ is now responsible for the day-to-day management of some of the borough’s most popular frontline services.

Enable, which has more than 100 directly employed staff plus more than 200 part-time and seasonal employees has today (Thursday) taken over responsibility for managing important services like Putney School of Art, the Tooting Bec Common athletics track, the annual fireworks display in Battersea Park, the arts service, the events and filming team and the leisure and sport team whose support helped the borough’s young athletes come top again in this summer’s London Youth Games.

Over the course of their four year contract with the council, Enable will have the freedom to launch new services and improve and enhance existing ones and bid for other contracts. 

As well as receiving a share of any additional revenues generated, the savings delivered by this new management arrangement are expected to benefit council tax payers in Wandsworth by an estimated £2.65m over the next four years

The opportunity for staff to take over the direct running of these services comes as part of a wider reorganisation that will see remaining staff from both Wandsworth and neighbouring Richmond Council combine to create a new single workforce serving both boroughs.

The two councils have already unveiled a new smaller and leaner senior management team, which will be led by a single chief executive. This will deliver savings of around £1.5m a year by reducing senior executive posts by 30 per cent. The creation of a single workforce serving both authorities is a key element of plans published by both councils earlier this year to deliver greater efficiencies, share expertise and save public money.

Cabinet member for community services Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Town halls across the country are looking at new ways of delivering public services. Many are embracing different business models and new ways of thinking to ensure they continue delivering the range and quality of services the public expect.

“Here in Wandsworth we believe our staff are better placed than most to rise to this challenge and adopt these new ways of thinking.

“This is why we have embraced the idea of staff mutuals. No-one is better placed to identify where efficiencies and innovations can be made than the people who are already doing the job. They know better than anyone what works and what doesn’t, what is worth doing and what isn’t.

“They will also have the freedom and ability to win contracts from other authorities which is what makes it such an attractive proposition from the workforce’s point of view.
“This is the same type of model now running Wandsworth’s library service. A social enterprise formed by staff at another London borough successfully bid to win this contract and is delivering an excellent service that offers greater value for money for taxpayers.

“We have absolutely no doubts at all that the expertise, experience and imagination of staff running Enable will prove to be an even bigger success.”

Paul McCue, who was until today an assistant director in the town hall and is now heading up the new staff mutual said: “We are excited about the opportunities Enable Leisure and Culture will bring for local people in Wandsworth. Residents can be confident that the responsive, accessible services we provide will continue as before, however, there will be opportunities to develop new services and partnerships for the benefit of all those who use Wandsworth leisure and culture services.”