18 September 2017 by Hera Lorandos

Southampton moves ahead with waste trading arm

Southampton city council is moving ahead with plans to establish a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo) to run waste collection and other public services in the city.

The LATCo will be wholly-owned by the local authority to generate income that can be reinvested into council services.

Southampton Guildhall

In December 2016, the council proposed to move away from managing waste collections in-house to setting up the LATCo to ‘commercialise’ its street cleansing and waste management and collection services as well as other services including housing operations and management.

External partners

Following a consultation with the public, partners and staff, which ended on 13 July, the council has proposed to go ahead with the creation of a LATCo without ‘external improvement partners’.

The consultation feedback showed that 63% agreed of respondents agreed to plans to create a LATCo, with 57% saying that the trading arm should be established without any external improvement partners.

Initially the council intended to work with an external partner to help set up the LATCo. The aim was “to bring commercial and operational expertise to support the development and growth of our efforts. This would have been an external organisation with experience of delivering the services being considered for the LATCo”, a council spokesperson said.

However, “Based on this feedback the council is proposing to go ahead with the creation of a LATCo without improvement partners, and will be looking at how to ensure the necessary capacity and expertise are available to make it a success,” a statement by the council added.

Income generation

The spokesperson for the council, said: “A Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo) will enable the council to pursue more income generation activity than is currently possible.

All waste collection services are currently run in-house by the council

“We want to use the income to help us reduce the need for future service cuts and the LATCo will enable us to increase our commercial skills, build on our public/partnership working, provide greater opportunities to shape services to trade, improve customer experience and support quicker decision making and more agility in responding to changes in the market.”

More detailed plans will be taken to Cabinet in January 2018, after which time further consultation with residents, tenants and staff is expected and the final decision whether to proceed with the LATCo is expected in May or June 2018.

According to documents put forward by the council, work will be undertaken between now and the end of the calendar year to develop outline service improvement and business development plans for the services in scope for the LATCo. These will be presented to Cabinet in the new year for initial consideration and review before being subject to further consultation and final decision.

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