Herefordshire Council's groundbreaking £135 million environmental services contract with construction and engineering firm Jarvis Plc is over - two years into its 10-year run.

Jarvis confirmed this week that it is about to sell its highway maintenance arm Prismo, which includes the company's shareholding in Herefordshire Jarvis Services, to Accord Plc.

Accord came a close second to Jarvis when the original contract was on offer in 2003.

The contract covers highway and traffic services, civic and school catering, building and grounds maintenance, street and building cleaning, recycling facilities and other support operations.

Council leader Roger Phillips said he was "comfortable" with Jarvis confirming the sale as imminent.

"The original contract to establish Herefordshire Jarvis Services was groundbreaking and we have seen real progress under the contract, particularly in the last few months.

"However, we recognise that the Jarvis name has caused difficulty for some, despite the progress that has been made," said Coun Phillips.

Accord is expected to honour existing staff and service terms.

Herefordshire Council's partnership with Jarvis was the first of its kind in the UK.

Since then, the firm's freefalling share price and possible break-up has caused concern for the future of the services involved.

In January this year, the Hereford Times revealed the council's contingency plans in case that break-up occurred.

The Hereford Times revealed the original deal in May 2003. A contract worth £135 million over 10 years transferred around 500 commercial services staff with terms and conditions intact.

This week, Jarvis announced that its losses in the year to March 31 rose to £353.8 million from £256 million a year ago. Accord reported profits of around £50 million and £260 million turnover last year.

It has contracts with councils in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire.