July 29 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Saturday, May 17, 2014
An independent trading company run by council staff will be set up to profit from the town hall’s expertise.
The venture, which will primarily be used to make money from the borough’s ground-breaking energy initiatives, would allow the council to charge private companies for services.
The town hall expects to make £50,000 this financial year by passing on its experience with Bunhill Energy Centre, which currently heats 700 homes and two leisure centres in Clerkenwell, to other councils.
The company, which does not yet have a name, would be staffed by council workers alongside their normal jobs and would be provided at a “negligible cost” to Islington Council.
Cllr Andy Hull, executive member for finance, said: “At the moment we can sell expertise to other councils but not to private organisations, for example, Arsenal.
“By setting up a trading company we hope to trade services with private companies and charities.
“We’re ahead of the curve in terms of power and we’ve got the know-how that lots of other councils and private companies want. Why not make the most of it?”
Members of the council’s executive agreed the plans set out in a document on Monday night, which includes a case study from highways and energy services which estimates a turnover of £2.4million and the potential for its own independent workforce.
As well as profiting from consultancy, the paper also sets out services that the council could sell – including grounds maintenance, metalwork fitting and infrastructure repair.
Cllr Hull believes the company will be the first of its type in London.
“With £95million of savings to make over the next four years, the most attractive way to close that gap is to generate more income rather than making savings.
“It would just be energy to start with. We’re dipping our toe and if it’s successful we will think about what else could work.”
Bunhill Energy Centre was opened in 2012 and pumps hot water to flats and houses on the Stafford Cripps, Redbrick and St Luke’s estates, off City Road, Finsbury Leisure Centre, in Norman Street, and the Ironmonger Row Baths.
In a ground-breaking project targeted for 2016, the substation will heat another 500 homes in the borough using waste heat from London Underground tunnels.