Using private firm to collect waste to be ruled out

Using a private company to collect rubbish and recycling from homes across Malvern Hills District is set to be ruled out by councillors.


Malvern Hills District Council had been exploring the possibility of creating a joint waste collection service with neighbouring Wychavon District Council. This would potentially have been provided by a private company with the hope of generating efficiencies and saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.


Interest from eight companies was received with three shortlisted for further development and negotiation towards the end of last year. However, rather than save money, the project has revealed it would cost considerably more to outsource the service than for the council to continue to operate it in-house.


As a result it is being recommended to councillors the idea of a joint waste contract should not be pursued. However, the council still needs to find £250,000 worth of savings from its waste and recycling collection service, in order to plug a £1.8million gap in its budget by 2019/20 as a result of government funding cuts.


Council officers have drawn up a series of proposals to save the money, the main one being switching to alternate weekly collections. This is where rubbish is collected one week and recycling the next week on a rotating basis.


Not only would this help save about £150,000 but it would also see residents issued with black wheeled bins instead of sacks, unless it would be unsuitable to do so because of the type or location of property.


It will also help boost the district’s recycling rates, which are currently around 38 per cent, and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. Alternate weekly – or fortnightly collections as they are commonly known – already operate in every other part of Worcestershire and each area saw recycling rates rise following the introduction of the system.


If the proposal is rejected then it will mean officers will have to draw up plans for significant cuts to all other council services, or major increases in charges, in order to balance the books.


Councillors will discuss the proposal for the first time at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 7 February 2017. It will then go to the decision-making Executive Committee a week later before finally being presented to Council for a final decision on 21 February.


If approved the change would be made from April 2018.


Cllr Bronwen Behan, portfolio holder for environment on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “What the exercise on the joint waste contract has shown is that this council already operates a very efficient and cost-effective waste collection service that the private sector is unable to match and our staff should be congratulated on that.


“As councillors we are now faced with a very difficult decision. Do we make a small adjustment to the way we collect waste and recycling in order to balance the books or do we make significant cuts to all our services in order to maintain weekly collections?


“We’ve made no decision about that yet and we’ll take the time we have to study all the options and implications before agreeing a way forward.”