Oxford City Council expands commercial operations

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Oxford City Council has expanded its commercial division, Oxford Direct Services, with plans to raise £10.4m over the next four years.

Oxford Direct Services will continue to expand its contracts with commercial business and organisations, offering services such as building services, highways and engineering, commercial waste, MOT testing, vehicle repairs, landscaping, grounds maintenance and pest control.

Two wholly-owned local authority trading companies have been set up and have started operating. Oxford Direct Services Ltd will primarily serve Oxford City Council, while Oxford Direct Services Trading Ltd will carry out commercial work. Over 700 frontline council services staff have transferred to the new organisations. Oxford City Council remains the shareholding owner of the organisations and, in practice, the services will continue to operate as Oxford Direct Services.

Facing the challenge of reduced central Government funding, Oxford Direct Services was set-up in 2012, with the council consolidating most of its frontline services into one organisation to serve the community’s needs and provide commercial services to local organisations and businesses. To date, Oxford Direct Services has returned £4.7m to the Council in the form of cost savings and returns from delivering commercial activities.

Simon Howick, Managing Director at Oxford Direct Services, said: “Everyone in the team is very proud of the improvement in council services and efficiencies we have delivered as Oxford Direct Services and the financial contribution we have made to date through our commercial services. For those residents and organisations where we deliver council services, very little will change. The City Council remains our single, largest customer and we will continue to strive to improve our services and efficiencies.

“However, under the new structure, we will also be able to maximise the commercial opportunity by offering our expertise to a wider range of organisations – delivering even more revenue back to the Council to spend on community services.”

Tim Sadler, Chairman of Oxford Direct Services, added: “The new structure will allow Oxford Direct Services to thrive for the good of the community. It will allow the organisation to continue to grow its financial contributions to the Council, continue to keep the costs of council service delivery down and provide additional, good quality job opportunities and apprenticeships over the coming years.”