The leader of Wokingham borough council has threatened to “part company” with the Re3 waste partnership, if an agreement on the “future direction” of waste and recycling can’t be reached.
Speaking at a Joint Waste Disposal Board meeting on 9 July, Councillor John Halsall – Wokingham’s representative on the board – raised concerns over Bracknell Forest and Reading borough councils’ recycling rates. His concerns were aired ahead of a vote to elect a chairman of the board which saw a Bracknell Forest councillor re-elected.
Re3 is the waste management partnership for Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham councils and was established in 1999 to develop sustainable waste management facilities. Contractor to the partnership is FCC Environment which won a 25 year PFI contract, which includes CA site and disposal work, in 2006.
Cllr Halsall described Wokingham as the “biggest contributor” to the partnership and criticised the other two partners, saying that while Wokingham has a recycling rate of 57.2%, Bracknell’s rates are in the mid-40s and Reading is in the mid-30s.
The partnership has since seen the three councils working together on waste management strategies for the past 14 years.
Wokingham council confirmed to letsrecycle.com today (4 August) that Cllr Halsall has since stepped down from the Joint Waste Disposal board.
Referencing an ambition for higher recycling rates, in his statement ahead of the vote, Cllr Halsall said: “Wokingham has commissioned a study to determine a road map to achieve that objective with milestones of 70% recycling in the near term. Re3 must be a key part to that.”
“The preferred choice of course is that Re3 adapts to cater for all its partners, flexibly and consensually.
We need to address the governance and ensure that Re3 is not the fiefdom of any particular authority
“Our partnership is coming into its Autumn years and we need now to consider what we wish to do as lead times are long.
“Re3 will survive that process if it can find a consensual way of working flexibly with all its partners. Failing that Wokingham will, in time, have to part company from its partners.”
Cllr Halsall proposed to postpone the vote to allow “officers and members an opportunity to consider the best path xx the issues”.
Cllr Halsall added: “Clearly Bracknell and Reading can force a vote. This would be unwise as a partnership of three cannot operate successfully if any partner is marginalised. Particularly the biggest contributor and most successful recycler. Such a vote would speak volume of re3 future directions.”
However, Cllr Tony Page of Reading Borough Council disagreed with Cllr Halsall’s proposal to postpone the vote. Cllr Page said: “Nothing that John has said is prevented from further discussion, but it doesn’t require the deferral of the chair. It would have been courteous to have (Cllr Halsall’s proposal) circulated in advance to have at least been given some notice and I would therefore propose the we continue with the business.”
Following the statement, the Joint Waste Board voted to keep the Bracknell councillor on as chairman, despite Cllr Halsall’s statement.
- Wokingham council has since introduced a scheme to replace recycling boxes in a bid to help keep the borough’s waste dry, in order to further boost recycling rates.