Blackpool bin collections back under council control in move to save £760k

Blackpool bin collections are being brought back under council control
Blackpool bin collections are being brought back under council control
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Bin collections in Blackpool are to come back under the control of the council in a move which aims to save the authority £760,000 a year.

Councillors have agreed to form a local authority trading company (LATCo) to run the service from next year when the current contract with Veolia Environmental Services comes to an end.

The executive has also approved borrowing up to £4.8m to buy new refuse vehicles which will operate out of Layton depot.

This will be funded out of the annual savings on the service which currently costs £3.85m a year to run.

But a Blackpool MP has said any decision taken must be in the interests of householders and not for the benefit of the council alone.

A council report says as well as saving money, the change will enable the council to have a more flexible approach to bin collections, and opens up the potential of sharing services with neighbouring authorities.

It says the council will look to retain staff, transferring them over to the new company and that bin collection arrangements for householders should not change.

The move comes as cuts to the government grant to councils increases financial pressure and follows money-saving moves in previous years.

In 2015, Blackpool Council considered scrapping green bin garden waste collections altogether, but relented after criticism and in 2016 decided to introduce a fee currently £35.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative MP Paul Maynard said: “This is an opportunity for Blackpool Council to consider what services it wishes to offer for residents who are, after all, the people paying for them.

“This is a chance to review the unpopular charges for green waste and to consider whether weekly black bin collections could be re-introduced.

“It is vital, whatever the service provider, that the Council delivers value for money to its tax payers.

“Any in-house operation must deliver for Blackpool residents, it cannot simply be another town hall exercise in providing jobs for the boys.”

Deputy leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, Don Clapham, said: “I would look for the protection of the current staff and that the change does not diminish the efficient service they provide.

“They came through here yesterday and did a marvellous job, efficient and leaving no mess.

“Borrowing is always a risk and this council’s mantra seems to be borrow, borrow and borrow again. Any loan must be paid back with interest and the council must ensure it exercises caution.”

Blackpool’s domestic waste contract was out-sourced in 2005 to a private company.

The contract was awarded to Onyx in April 2005, and extended in 2010. Onyx later became part of Veolia.

Councillors first decided in January to consider the option of bringing the service back under the town hall umbrella. The decision to hand the service to a private company had been taken in 2005 at a time when the government was encouraging councils to outsource contracts.

At that time households in Blackpool were issued with three wheelie bins for general waste, garden waste and recyclable waste, as well as a bag for waste paper.

The service changed to the current alternate weekly collections with recyclables collected one week and non-recyclables the next week.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Following a detailed review we identified an opportunity to make significant annual savings in the region of £760,000 by bringing domestic waste services under the council’s umbrella.

“Councils including Blackpool continue to face massive pressures on budgets and delivering savings year on year is extremely challenging. This decision will see the formation of a Local Authority Trading Company to deliver domestic waste services.

“The benefits of choosing this option which were presented during the review are compelling. A LATCo offers the greatest saving opportunity, the potential for further efficiencies and the ability to operate more flexibly and adapt quickly to future challenges. It can also offer the possibility of shared services with neighbouring councils.”