Jobs should stay with local firms says angry boss

Donna Hall
Donna Hall

A WIGAN business chief has accused the council of failing to support local jobs.

Entrepreneur Olivier Cavaliere has blasted town hall chiefs for approving a tender from services company ISS for their school buildings cleaning contract which now sees 240 council staff transfer to the multi national under privatisation.

The Chief Executive of Pemberton-based Oltec says that he was unaware that the deal was up for renewal so failed to put in a bid.

And he claimed that town hall chiefs actually only pay lip-service to the ‘Buy Local’ campaign they want residents themselves to sign up for.”

He is now threatening to stop investing in the borough or create any further jobs locally until the council show greater support for Wigan businesses.

But the council’s Deputy Chief Executive insisted today: “The process was open for any business to apply.

Oltec, who headquarters is on the new Beecham Court development, recently won a £10m five-year contract with soft drinks giant Britvic UK to provide services including cleaning, security, post mail management, pest control and provision of workwear,

They already have a schools cleaning contract near Carlisle and would have been keen to bid for the Wigan work.

He is so concerned he has now made an official complaint to his MP and to council bosses.

Mr Cavaliere, who started with a security business in Wigan in 1974, has now seen Oltec grow to become a Facilities Management Company with a £27m turn over (up from just £1.3m a decade ago) and a £2m headquarters in Beecham Court.

They now have more than 2,100 staff.

He said: “My point is the council should pro-actively award contract to local companies if they have the capability and if they are competitive instead of giving them to a multi national group which does not have Wigan at heart.

“We are perfectly capable to clean schools as we already do in Cumbria, along with cleaning sensitive sites like private hospitals and shopping centres, I understand that there are processes in tendering for contracts but I was totally unaware that this was up for renewal.

“What is the point of the council to promoting “Buy Local“ when it does not even follow this rule itself, which to my mind is pathetic!

“Oltec Group has invested millions of pounds in the Borough so I would expect the Council to engage with my senior team and support our development as surely, this would mean that we might invest more locally and create more jobs.

“It is infuriating me that no one at the Council would have taken the initiative to identify Wigan businesses who are growing and could potentially service this contract and contact them to invite and encourage them to tender for this service.

Under the controversial deal which has been strongly attacked by the unions, in-house provider MetroFresh lost the contract to clean 70 per cent of council premises they were responsible for.

Council Deputy Chief Executive Donna Hall said they were committed to helping to create new jobs and opportunities for residents, supporting the ‘Buy Local’ ethos and creating a campaign around it.

But she said the council has to follow strict legal rules when tendering for and awarding a contract of this size which must be fair and equitable to all. She said: “It cannot show favour to a particular business or organisation purely on the grounds that it is local to the area.

“The process was open to any business or organisation to apply.

“It is the responsibility of individual businesses within this market to keep up-to-date with any relevant notification of invitations to tender and submit a bid accordingly.

She insisted that ISS did employ local people from it’s regional base in Westhoughton, and has protected Wigan jobs by transferring existing Wigan Council staff over to it’s operation.”