Construction group Kier remains committed to its joint property maintenance venture with Powys Council, members have heard.

Heart of Wales Property Services is a joint venture between the company and Powys Council, looking after 5,400 homes and 630 properties in the county.

The council has been identified HOWPS as an area of significant risk, and internal auditors SWAP had been asked to look at contingency plans for if Kier went bust.

SWAP assistant director Ian Halstead, put his findings to the audit committee at a meeting on Tuesday, September 29, and said the council needed to keep a close eye on Kier's performance, and advised scrutiny of the joint venture by an independent body.

But the meeting also heard that Kier has reaffirmed its commitment to the venture.

Audit committee vice chairman and independent member John Brautigam also shared the findings of his own discussions with Kier.

“Last year, Kier Group did a strategic review," he said.

County Times:

“They decided to completely change their structure, concentrate on its core. They were going to exit the market for a lot of small operations."

“We have received verbal assurances, and I hasten to add these assurances of continued support have been given in absolute sincerity.

“They have behaved absolutely impeccably in terms of communication on their financial performance. Kier is committed to HOWPS.”

But, due to how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the economy, he believed it was essential to receive a further written assurance of Kier Group’s support going beyond the middle of December.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, added: “The leader (Cllr Rosemarie Harris) did have a meeting with the Kier directors and they gave a very strong clear commitment to the future, and obviously we welcome that."

Director of Transformation and Resources, Vanessa Young told the committee that PCC already a business continuity plan in place that covers “unplanned exit.”

Ms Young said: “We are not suggesting it’s going to be required but it is appropriate we have a plan in place.”

“The contract runs from 2017 to 2027 but there is a break clause in July 2022.

“Both parties will be looking and reviewing the situation ahead of that, to decide whether to enact the break clause or continue to 2027.”

She added that work would be done to “appraise” options so the council could make an informed decision.