A SCHEME to move Newport council property services to a profit-making joint venture looks to be going ahead despite concerns over the time a group of councillors had to look at other proposals.

A meeting of Newport’s cabinet yesterday agreed for officers to start negotiations with publicly-owned Norse Group, with one senior councillor saying the move will safeguard jobs and improve the quality of service.

The decision came after a scrutiny committee tasked to look into the issue last autumn expressed concerns over job security, pensions and arrangements for the transition, but said the joint venture was the only viable option of four presented to it.

A report to cabinet said that, in light of the fact the short time available precluded a more thorough investigation, two options – outsourcing to the private sector or collaborating with other authorities – were ruled out as not being able to deliver expected savings by March 31.

A committee sub-group, therefore, just weighed up the joint venture plan with keeping a changed service in house.

The report said: “More timely and thorough scrutiny of the matter could have produced a wider choice of options upon which to base a decision and may have resulted in a different outcome.”

Cllr Roger Jeavons, who chairs the street scene, regeneration and safety scrutiny committee, told cabinet: “We had very, very little time, we were upset that we were involved so late.”

However, Cllr Jeavons said the committee didn’t need to look at it again.

Following a question from council leader Bob Bright, interim head of regeneration and regulatory services Julie Vellucci told the cabinet that she felt that scrutiny sub-group had sufficient time to go into detail.

Will Godfrey, chief executive, said the joint venture would balance the need to improve services and protect staff.