A WORKING group has been set up to help secure the future maintenance of some of Whitchurch’s most important outdoor sites.

The existing contracts have run past the end of their terms, partly because of the outbreak of Covid-19, with no new deals being agreed.

The current operators, Lime Trees Landscapes and Nobridge, are continuing to maintain areas including Whitchurch Cemetery and Jubilee Park, but now new plans need to be put in place to ensure their long-term upkeep.

The tender for new contracts was discussed at the town council’s June meeting, held virtually on Thursday, June 18.

The main point of discussion between councillors was whether to continue paying for maintenance or put out a tender for a new contract.

Initially an proposal was put forward to defer a decision to October, with councillor John Martin suggesting a new tender be drawn up.

“We’ve got to sort this out and I think deferring this to October is a pretty sensible suggestion,” said Cllr Martin.

“But within that time we get a better tender document drafted and give people a longer time to reply to their tenders as submitting them within 12 days is a bit short.”

Cllr Scott Radford and Simon Hamlyn took the view that a new tender should be drawn up, with the existing one potentially being too long.

“Having gone through document it’s a weird hybrid of a tender and a contract,” said Cllr Radford.

Cllr Hamlyn added: “I read this and got quite lost in there. If we can have a more detailed discussion around the contact and leave it till October it gives more time to get it write. It was excessively long and could put people off tendering.”

In the meantime clerk of the council Nicola Young suggested a working party be formed, saying: “I suggest that a group get together to get it sorted.”

Cllr Alan Chesters also suggested the working party be set up, and it will be brought back before the council at July’s meeting.

“I would go along with the October deadline and form a working party,” he said.

It was agreed that a working party was set up to discuss the issue of council tenders, with the conclusion from the group being brought back to July’s council meeting.