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Councillors to vote on shape of new waste contract

Councillors will be asked to approve a familiar look to waste and recycling collections as the Derbyshire Dales prepares for a new contract coming into force in August 2020.

After an extensive consultation exercise, District Council officers are recommending that weekly food waste collections continue, together with fortnightly collections of dry recycling and fortnightly collections of residual household waste that can't be recycled or composted.

A proposed change is that a charge - yet to be specified - is made for fortnightly collections of garden waste, bringing the Derbyshire Dales into line with almost half of UK councils that now charge residents for this service.

Local councils do not have a legal responsibility to collect garden waste and residents would not be forced to buy into the scheme.

At a special meeting on 29 November, Dales councillors will be asked to approve the development by March next year of a detailed contract specification ahead of councillors meeting again to give approval to tender.

A report to the meeting, which was published on Wednesday 21 November, recommends:

“The free garden waste service will be discontinued and a chargeable garden waste service will be introduced as a requirement of the service specification.

“Further work is required to consider how the change from a free to a chargeable service can be introduced, as well as the timeframe for the service change. The level of the annual charge should not be decided until overall financial costings of the contract are made clear.”

Since 2012 the waste collection service in the Dales has been delivered by Serco on behalf of the District Council. In advance of the contract ending in 2020, the council has been exploring a range of potential service options.

The cost of the current waste collection contract is £1.9 million per year – on average just under 67p per household per week.

But the 29 November report states that the current contract was tendered at a time when the market was much more buoyant. Subsequently there had been an increase not only in the cost of service provision but also in the level of liability contractors seek to share, while the value of some recyclable materials, such as plastics, had plummeted.

Market testing by the District Council, which is working with an industry specialist consultancy firm, had confirmed being able to afford a like-for-like replacement waste and recycling service was extremely unlikely.

The forecast rising cost of the waste and recycling contract also comes at a time when the District Council needs more money than ever to continue to provide frontline services. Successive central government grant cuts include a further £611,000 reduction for 2018/19.

The level of government grant the authority receives will have reduced from £3.5m in 2013/14 to £0.5m by 2020/21. So even after making substantial savings in recent times, the District Council has to find additional ongoing savings of £700,000 over the next three years.

Next week's meeting will also be asked to approve that bidders consider the impact of a service variation via a method statement for introducing three weekly collections of residual waste during the contract term – but no earlier than six years from now in 2024 and only if the council voted to do so.

Council Leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said:

"The three-weekly collection variation has been included on the recommendation of our consultants and it is important to stress that any decision of that nature would only be taken by the Council elected in 2023 and not the one elected next year.

"The future of waste and recycling collections is one of the most significant matters we have considered in recent years and the importance of this service to the people we serve has been clearly demonstrated by the record-breaking public response to our consultation."

Other key provisos of any potential future three-weekly collection would be that it brought about savings to the council and linked in with the introduction of a free opt-in weekly collection of textiles and absorbent hygiene products – such as nappies - together with communication and education.

The education aspect would include home visits to assist residents and a requirement that the variation would only to be implemented when the number of properties on sack collections in the Derbyshire Dales is reduced.

Dales residents currently recycle or compost 57% of their waste – the best performance in Derbyshire. But the UK is likely to have a legislative target to meet 65% of recycling in the future – and three-weekly collections introduced in other areas of the UK have increased recycling rates.

A total of 2,629 people responded to a survey on possible changes to waste and recycling collections and the report to the 29 November meeting lists the survey findings and feedback from a series of community forums in September.

Headlines include:

  • 97% of people think recycling is important
  • 83% of blue bins are 75% full or more
  • 94% of card and paper inserts are full
  • 66% use food waste weekly
  • 41% of people’s grey bin is not full
  • 59% of grey bins full each week

The results of the survey can be viewed here.

To help local people understand the background to the waste and recycling contract process, the District Council has prepared a list of FAQs here

Councillors will be asked to approve a familiar look to waste and recycling collections as the Derbyshire Dales prepares for a new contract coming into force in August 2020.

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