PRIVATE company Capita has kept a key part of its ground-breaking 15-year contract with Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Under government rules the £10million-a-year outsourcing deal, struck in 2001, had to be ended by June 30 this year.

The borough has taken back several key services in house during the renegotiation process, including welfare and benefits payments, to improve it ability to respond swiftly and flexibly to government changes in legislation and regulations.

Now council finance chief, Cllr Andy Kay, has revealed Capita, which has a large office in Blackburn, has won the right to keep the technical services until 2021.

The new five-year-deal, worth a least £60 million, covers highway services, design, property, architectural services and technical services.

With Capita now confirmed as preferred bidder by Blackburn with Darwen Council, the partnership will be for for an initial term of five years, with the ability to extend for another five years.

Capita has played a key role in designing the long-delayed new Blackburn bus station, the town's Youth Zone, and have managed the £40million Pennine Reach public transport scheme in the borough.

Services taken back 'in house' by the borough include accounts for debtors and creditors, revenues and benefits, parking, and design and print services.

In July 2012, changes to the deal saw payroll and personnel services taken back into the town hall.

Capita will also work with the council to identify wider savings in costs and generate new income through the commercialisation of existing services and assets.

The contract includes a wider £2billion framework, which allows a number of other public organisations to directly procure Capita's services for a wide range of infrastructure and development projects.

Cllr Kay said: "This flexible contract represents the next generation of partnerships between local government and the private sector.

"The services provided by our partner, Capita, and access to its wider capabilities and expertise will potentially help us to grow our revenues, reduce our expenditure and transform the borough to meet the needs of our residents over the next five years and maybe beyond."

Capita Chief Executive Andy Parker said: "We have been working with the council for fifteen years, and this contract builds on that long-standing relationship.

"This partnership model will transform Blackburn with Darwen and drive further investment and funding into the area - as well as allowing the Council to draw upon the complete breadth of expertise across Capita."