Cambridge city and South Cambridgeshire councils agreed to the move in October 2014 as a way of optimising routes and reducing vehicle movements across the districts (see letsrecycle.com story).
The merger sees nearly 100 staff employed by Cambridge city council transferred to South Cambridgeshire Waterbeach depot – close to AmeyCespa’s MBT facility where the majority of municipal waste in the county is treated.
Cambridge city council’s current depot on Mill Road will meanwhile be used to maximise the potential for future housing.
As Labour and Conservative-led authorities respectively, Cambridge city and South Cambridgeshire both told letsrecycle.com they had put political differences aside to create a service that would not result in redundancies.
Councillor Mick Martin, environmental services portfolio holder at South Cambridegshire council, explained that the motivation of the two councils for the merger had been “slightly different”.
He said: “The city has a very valuable piece of real estate they needed to vacate to maximise its potential. Our clear need was we had just invested in redevelopment of our site in Waterbeach and found there was distinct spare capacity on the site.”
He continued: “It’s illogical to have two sets of vehicles going round the same routes. The estimates suggest that we can save two vehicles on the fleet by integration. We are also looking to review our working practices, so we don’t end up with half loads at the end of the day.”
The councils will continue to operate the joint service in-house, while the councils’ collection frequency and commingled recycling service are already aligned via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Waste Partnership (RECAP).
However, councillor Peter Roberts, environment and waste executive at Cambridge city council, noted some differences that would need to be “ironed out”.
He said: “South Cambridgeshire collects paper separately through an inset in the commingled wheeled bin. Paper prices are going down so it’s more likely that future vehicle adaption might go the other way. Commingled processes are better at separating paper now.”
Mr Roberts added that there is also a ‘mismatch’ between revenues generated by commercial waste collection services in the two districts, which the councils agreed to merge last month.
He continued: “We have put in a mechanism to maintain the high level of income received by Cambridge city council with a view to work towards a 50/50 partnership as the South Cambridgeshire service grows.”
All future decisions regarding the waste strategy of Cambridge city council or South Cambridgeshire will now have to be put to the chambers of both authorities.
Asked whether a clash of ideology between the two councils may lead to disagreements over service changes, such as garden waste charges, Mr Martin added: “I would hope not. The headline principle will make it clear that the purpose of all this is customer facing. Therefore if we make changes that are regressive rather than progressive we should be questioning that.”