Southend takes more time on Veolia contract

Southend council’s cabinet has postponed voting on whether the authority should opt against extending its contract with Veolia.

Veolia Suez
Veolia began a 10-year collections contract in Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks in September 2020

On Monday (24 January), councillors on Southend’s scrutiny committee rejected a proposal to renew the waste and recycling collection contract, instead opting to “test the market” with a new tender (see letsrecycle.com story).

The decision was set to be voted on by the council’s cabinet the following day, but this was withdrawn by the administration.

According to the council, the decision was taken so “the issue can be considered further by the environment, culture, tourism and planning working party”.

The council said an updated report will then go back through the democratic process, via cabinet and place scrutiny committee.

This is a complex and challenging issue

  • Cllr Carole Mulroney, Southend

‘Complex’

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism, and planning, said “This is a complex and challenging issue, regarding the largest revenue contract that we have, and impacting every resident of the borough.

“At both cabinet and scrutiny, there was a significant measure of agreement by councillors that we should go to tender for a new waste collection contract and that we wish to retain the current model of collection if that is any way practical. However, given the national, local and financial context, there was also recognition that we might need changes in the future.

“In light of this, the matter was withdrawn for further discussion at the environment, culture, tourism and planning working party with a view to realising an agreed position going forward in a timely manner, the outcome of which will be considered by cabinet and made available for scrutiny”.

Contract

When opting to test the market, the scrutiny committee recognised that the current weekly collection system was “popular” with residents.

The second option available to the council was to renew the contract and switch to fortnightly collections, while the third was in-house.

The council has stressed to residents that the current deal runs until October 2023, and said any option to test the market will likely lead to a short term renewal of this.

Veolia’s recycling and waste collection deal with the council began in 2015, under an initial eight year deal due to expire in October 2023 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The contract was valued at £150 million over 15 years, and also included street cleaning, graffiti removal, operation of the Essex borough’s household waste recycling centres (HWRCs), and construction of a waste transfer station.

Cllr Mulroney added: “We need to get this issue right, and if that means more time is taken, then that is what we feel is the right thing to do.

“I want to reiterate that any new contract would not start until October 2023 at the earliest meaning that the current arrangements for waste collection will be in place until at least then.”

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