Council Leader speaks out about recycling company's demise

Council Leader Steve Fritchley has spoken out about the recent demise of the contractor who collected our burgundy bins.

Steve had doubts about the company when he became Leader in 2019 and as the country endured the pandemic he kept a watchful eye on its performance. He decided, after a slew of complaints last summer, to ask officers and the Cabinet member to prepare an alternative mechanism in case of an overnight collapse of the contractor.

The recycling company went into administration last week and officers moved quickly with a package to rescue the service and ultimately save the jobs of many of the recycling collection staff.

Council Leader, Steve Fritchley said, “It is regretful that the company has ceased trading but our first priority was to ensure the service could continue without interruption and secondly to save the jobs of those affected – and we managed to achieve both.

“We must take this opportunity to examine how the vagaries of continuous market fluctuations have on the viability of successful private bidders for what is becoming a local authority’s statutory function. The firm’s reliance on income from scrap/recyclables without a healthy balance sheet to iron out market fluctuations places them in jeopardy. This leads to low wages, poor equipment maintenance, erratic service delivery and ultimately collapse.

“When companies tender for contracts they must take into consideration fluctuations in market values of the product and depreciation of their assets. I am a firm advocate of supporting businesses and providing them with opportunities to win Council contracts, but not at the expense of service to our residents.

“The Council is now operating the burgundy bin service and will be looking at how to incorporate the service into our present waste collection regime with the minimum of disruption. We have acquired the vehicles and are in the process of servicing them and bringing them up to standard. There will of course, be additional capital and revenue costs, but these will be met from our vehicle replacement reserve and through economic scaling.

“I hold the view that all essential public services should be delivered by Local Councils and this ‘necessity of rescue and continued service’ reinforces that view. We already collect household and garden waste with an efficient, intelligent and loyal workforce and the addition of the ‘burgundy bin’ service shouldn’t cause our staff many ‘sleepless nights’.”

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