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Security firm which used unqualified stewards has its pay docked by council

By Donna Deeney

Published 13/01/2016

Christmas lights are turned on in Derry last month
Christmas lights are turned on in Derry last month

A security company employed by Derry City and Strabane District Council to steward two of the biggest public events of 2015 will not receive full payment because some employees did not have the necessary qualifications.

The findings of a report by the Head of Culture/Lead Legal Services Officer, which was brought before the Business and Culture Committee last night, found that the successful company, Estate Services, had a number of people working at the events who did not hold an NVQ Level 3 qualification or its equivalent.

The report stated: "Tenderers for the stewarding contracts for council's Halloween and Christmas events were required to confirm that they were in a position to provide a number of stewards for each event, qualified to NVQ Level 3 or equivalent.

"Following the conclusion of the Halloween event, a systems check was carried out.

"This revealed a number of the stewards did not have the required NVQ Level 3 qualification.

"Alternative qualifications were provided and these were checked with the Emergency Planning College (EPC) for equivalence.

"The EPC were unable to provide the necessary comfort in this regard."

Estate Services went on to provide security for the Christmas lights switch-on.

It was also the company that provided security and stewarding at many of the major events that took place in Derry during the City of Culture celebrations in 2013.

In the tendering document to steward Halloween and Christmas 2015, the council also required the applicant to "provide a written statement confirming that all proposed staff have the necessary qualification to fulfil the requirement of the tender".

The members of the Business and Culture Committee were also told that because Estate Services was not able to provide evidence that workers at Halloween had NVQ Level 3, the company would face a penalty.

The author of the report said: "Council officers have met with the company and advised that money will be withheld from the contract in respect of the under qualified Level 3 stewards. This is £168.

"Further, council officers have indicated that a penalty of 10% of the original contract price (£28,000) would be withheld to reflect the non-compliance.

"Council officers will continue to monitor these contracts for compliance going forward.

"Members should be reassured that the newly introduced systems checks are robust and will identify issues as they arise."

No one from the council or from the Estate Services branch was available to comment on the report.

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