East Cambs Council owned trading arm released to stand on its own two feet and can be hired by anyone - even by chief executive John Hill

The East Cambs home of East Cambs council chief executive John Hill which had a pre-winter make-over

The East Cambs home of East Cambs council chief executive John Hill which had a pre-winter make-over by East Cambs Trading workers, the council owned arms length company. East Cambs Trading is available to tender for all private work and is competitive - as Mr Hill discovered., Picture; ELY STANDARD READER - Credit: Archant

An arms length company set up by East Cambs Council has been so successful that it’s been freed to compete for any commercial contract small or large – and among its customers has been council chief executive John Hill.

A reader who spotted workers from the wholly owned and successful council owned council company completing a pre-Christmas make over at Mr Hill’s Little Downham house need have no fears about the bill. Mr Hill took the quote for the work, accepted it, and paid for it – an opportunity available to anyone.

Emma Grima, commercial services director for East Cambs Trading Company, said: “Council services such as grass cutting and grounds maintenance are undertaken by the parks and open spaces team who are part of the council’s trading arm, East Cambs Trading Company.

“As well as being responsible for open spaces, play areas and churchyards within the district, they also undertake private work for businesses and individuals.

“As such, the trading company operates like any other business; taking inquiries and quoting for prospective work.”

Ms Grima said that any businesses or individuals that would like to request work to be undertaken by East Cambs Trading Company can call 01353 665555 or inquire by emailing parksandopenspaces@eastcambs.gov.uk.”

East Cambs Trading Company Limited (ECTC) was incorporated in March 2016 by East Cambridgeshire District Council. The property and community housing division was set up to perform contracts awarded by the council to develop housing of all tenures, generating profit for the council. The commercial services division was set up to manage and operate the Ely Markets on behalf of the council and provide grounds maintenance services.

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From inception, ECTC was also set up to pursue commercial opportunities, generating up to 20 per cent of its profits from this activity.

Because it began to breach the statutory threshold, changes were made to allow ECTC “to freely trade as a commercial entity”.

ECTC is now successfully trading – openly and legally – as a contractor and no longer reliant on the council alone for its profitability. It is, says the council, like every other business “and will be subject to the vagaries of the market and suffer its own losses, operating in a competitive environment”.

The council says it will monitor ECTC to ensure that it does not breach the Government procurement rules.