TWO hundred staff are to transfer out of Newport council after a profit-making joint venture with a firm owned by Norfolk council was launched.

The Argus previously reported that the authority’s cabinet had agreed on a plan for property services to be farmed out to Norse Newport.

A 10-year £7.3 million a year agreement has now been reached with Newport council that will see the new organisation manage Newport Market, provide cleaning and manage its property portfolio including providing on-site cleaning.

Norse Newport, a joint-venture between the council and Norse Group, owned by Norfolk Council, will manage the council’s 400 buildings and 1,000 parcels of land.

Cllr Gail Giles, Newport council’s cabinet member for human resources and assets, said: “For a number of reasons, including the increasingly difficult financial situation facing the council, it became necessary to review the provision of these services and various options were carefully examined.

“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly because we wanted to ensure the new organisation offered a range of benefits including greater stability for employees, flexibility in responding to local priorities, streamlined management and a more commercial culture. We believe the joint venture meets these requirements.”

Some 200 staff will transfer to the new organisation on the same terms and conditions, and local government pensions, as they had at Newport council.

The transfers will take place following consultations with staff and trade unions.

Lyndon Watkins will serve as managing director of Newport Norse from July 24.

Managing director of Norse Group, Peter Hawes said: “We are delighted to be working with Newport City Council in this new joint venture, to deliver a wide range of services.”

The agreement does not transfer ownership of the properties or land to the joint venture.