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Water giant puts seal on Solihull link-up.

Byline: Richard Tyler

Severn Trent yesterday beat BT and WS Atkins to secure a pounds 150 million, ten-year strategic partnership contract with Solihull Council.

The two sides will now spend the next six months finalising their plans, but hope to offer Solihull citizens a number of quick wins by importing private sector thinking into the delivery of the council's existing services.

Katherine Kerswell, chief executive of Solihull Council, said: 'This is a significant step for Solihull Council and I am looking forward to working closely with Severn Trent over the coming months as we jointly plan and start to deliver better services and support for local Solihull people and staff.'

The partnership will see the creation of a joint venture company between Severn Trent's utility services division and Solihull Council, which will be staffed with a mixture of secondments and permanent transfers.

Brian Duckworth, managing director of Severn Trent Water, said his team had identified the Government's e-agenda, which promotes online and 24 hour telephone access to local authority services, as a business opportunity.

'Basically, Severn Trent is good at managing assets, we are good at managing customers and we are good at managing change programmes.

'Combine that with a localpresence - we are just around the corner - and you are on to a winner,' he said.

'At the same time we saw the Government's e-agenda for local authorities and we felt there were things we could help with.

'The first one we have gone for we have had a major success,' he added.

The two sides have already agreed in principle that once the necessary IT investment had been made the joint venture company would look to market its services beyond Solihull.

Severn Trent has already pencilled in up to pounds 500 million of potential income that could be generated by selling the improved council services, like tax collection and billing, to local West Midland businesses and other local authorities around the country.

Coun Ted Richards, leader of Solihull Council, said: 'From a councillor's perspective, the next six months are vital.

'We have to protect staff, services and local democracy in making this relationship work and making a real difference to the way our services are delivered.

'Severn Trent has impressed us by listening to our concerns and trying to meet them.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 26, 2002
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