Running of household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) could be brought in-house by Leicestershire county council in a bid to save £250,000 per-year from the cost of the service.
The council’s cabinet will discuss the proposals to take over the running of 13 of the county’s 14 HWRC sites on 17 June – from contractor Environmental Waste Controls, which signed a contract to run the sites in 2006 (see letsrecycle.com story ).
A further HWRC and transfer station site at Whetstone is currently run by Suez under a separate arrangement, which officers have recommended should continue.
According to a report compiled by council officers ahead of the decision, bringing the service in-house would give the authority more control of the service as well as resulting in a reduction in costs for the council.
The report says: “Giving the council more control over the service will permit greater flexibility in its delivery both in response to future efficiencies and the changing needs and expectations of service users and, as costs are expected to be lower, will allow higher service levels to be maintained than if the service was commissioned from the market.”
The council noted that having control of associated assets such as ‘sites, containers and environmental permits is a positive factor in determining to insource’.
Overall the council spends around £3.2 million in running the service every year. The change in operation of the service would be brought at the earliest by April 2017 when the council’s contract with Environmental Waste Controls comes to an end.
However, the report notes that there is an element of “risk” involved in in-sourcing as the council has not run the service for 25 years.
If the proposal is given the green light – all HWRC operatives would transfer from Environmental Waste Controls Ltd to the authority. There may also be a transfer of plant and equipment not already owned by the council.
Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for waste and recycling, said: “It is hoped that bringing the running of these sites back in-house will help us to reduce the waste budget, while continuing to support the public in recycling and disposing of waste.”
Leicestershire county council needs to save £400,000 from its waste budget by 2018-2019.
A number of changes have been introduced across the authority’s 14 sites. These include: a reduction in opening days during the summer, and the introduction of charges for disposing of some non-household waste.
In recent months, local authorities and the private sector have debated whether waste services are best delivered by the private or public sector. A report published by the Environmental Services Association last month – ‘Public Realm Services – Making the Right Choice’ suggested that there had been little change in the overall level of outsourcing between 2005 and 2015, apart from a small increase in the number of HWRC contracts being sent out to the private sector (see letsrecycle.com story).