Joint waste project update
Cllr Martin Quaile, Cabinet Member for the Environment, to present report SD.81, an update on the County Joint Waste Project.
Cllr Martin Quaile, Cabinet Member for the Environment stated that the Gloucestershire Joint Waste Partnership was made up of Gloucestershire County Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council Cotswold District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council. The joint waste project is due to decide by the end of the year whether to form a joint committee and delegate certain responsibilities for waste collection and disposal to that committee. He said that there would be no immediate change to residents or communities as the district councils would not change the ways in which they deliver their waste collection service. The Board would include two Councillors plus a Strategic Director from each authority and the County Council would be the administration authority. The council would not lose its voice and would still hold the authority to make decisions on budget setting. Cllr Quaile confirmed that the Scrutiny arrangements would not change. He said that savings could be made by being able to cross boundaries and on joint purchasing through economies of scale. The partnership would have direct responsibility to deliver and achieve agreed goals. Others may join the partnership in the future, Tewkesbury Borough Council had not yet decided and a report would be presented to Cabinet in December to make a decision for this authority.
Cllr Edwards asked when Tewkesbury Borough Council were making their decision on the partnership.
Cllr Quaile said that Tewkesbury Borough Council’s meeting was on 29 November 2011.
Peter Hibberd, Strategic Director explained a Local Authority Company (LA Company) had been formed between Cheltenham Borough Council and Cotswold District Council to undertake collection and other ancillary waste services including abandoned vehicles and street cleaning. At present Tewkesbury Borough Council and Cheltenham Borough Council both have an in-house waste collection service and Cotswold and the Forest of Dean have a contract. The Cotswold contract is due to end next year and they will then provide the service in-house through the Local Authority Company. Tewkesbury Borough Council has recently decided that they are reconsidering their position on joining the LA Company which would make it much more attractive for this council as our street cleaning contract ends next year and we have a ‘land bridge’ with Tewkesbury. He said that officers needed time to look at the pros and cons of being in the LA company and would hopefully supply the information for the Cabinet to make their decision in December 2011. He noted page 53 which detailed the savings profile over the next four years.
Derek Broom, Group Manager Finance and Property confirmed that the savings for this council joining the Joint waste Committee were estimated to be £61,000 by year 5 (2016/2017).
Answering a question from Cllr Bill Evans, Sue Pangbourne Head of Paid Service said that sharing projects and partnerships was one of the best ways to help protect staff and front line services.
Cllr O’Neill had concerns that new staff would have a worsening of conditions of service.
The Head of Paid Service said that the turn over of staff in this area of work was high.
The Strategic Director said that lower staff costs probably accounted for around 2% of the overall collection and disposal cost. Land fill tax and fuel costs were where the majority of savings would be made.
Cllr Quaile confirmed that the contract with Biffa did not end until 2018 but there would not be a great impact on the contract. He said details of the net savings were on page 53 of the report.
The Group Manager, Finance and Property said that the council would enjoy savings in the first three years of £26,000 but there have been some costs associated with the setting up of the project. He said that the County Council was prepared to cover the costs of being the administration authority in the early years of the project.
Cllr Quaile confirmed that two districts were not in the partnership but could join at a later date but the partnership may already have agreed things which may not be so beneficial for each authority as at the start of the project.
The Strategic Director said that if the project goes ahead the pooling of savings will benefit each authority, this council will share the savings and the risks in proportion. He also confirmed that this authority would still have voting rights and the contract would still exist although the budget to pay for the waste contract would be transferred to the Joint Waste Committee.
The chairman thanked Cllr Quaile for bringing this item to scrutiny before being presented to the Cabinet.
Cllr Quaile said that if the Joint Waste Committee proceeds then the savings should be made and although this council’s waste contract runs until 2018 the partnership may decide that all the contracts come together to maximise savings.
The Strategic Director confirmed that by the end of 2016 the cumulative annual savings for the council would be £142,000 but he was convinced that there would be other savings.
Answering the Chairman, Cllr Quaile said that on page 93 of the report there were details of the delegated functions and retained decisions for the authority. He also confirmed that the waste contract had recently been re-negotiated during the last council.
Cllr Frankie Evans said that she had read an article relating to the introduction of nectar points to try and encourage recycling and a scheme run by Cheltenham Borough Council called Scrapshop.
Cllr Quaile said that the Gloucestershire Waste Partnership had looked at a similar scheme but it was not viable at the moment. He said he was also aware of the Cheltenham Borough Council initiative but it was not planned to do this for domestic waste at the moment. He said that it was his view that the Council should give joining the Joint Waste Committee very serious consideration and also look into joining the Local Authority Company. He hoped that direction could be given to the Cabinet to help inform their decision.
Cllr Pugh said that the council would lose some autonomy and also asked if there would still be accountability back to the Scrutiny Committee.
Cllr Quaile confirmed that the Scrutiny arrangements would not change and the Cotswold report would be the template for this council’s report to the Cabinet meeting.
Peter Hibberd confirmed that Tewkesbury Borough Council joining was more relevant for the Local Authority Company because of the physical border.
RESOLVED – that
a) the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes report SD.81 and the Cabinet position and is supportive in principle of the Forest of Dean District Council joining the Countywide Joint Waste Project and the Local Authority Company provided that Tewkesbury Borough Council also join.
b) if Tewkesbury Borough Council do not join the Local Authority Company then this council should only proceed with joining the Countywide Joint Waste Project.
c) in the event that Tewkesbury Borough Council fail to join either the Countywide Joint Waste Project or the Local Authority Company then the Cabinet need to re-visit the issue.