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£2 million of taxpayers' cash to be spent on new bin lorries in Derbyshire Dales

Thursday, March 7th, 2019 5:55pm

By Eddie Bisknell- Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Council taxpayers in the Derbyshire Dales will be bankrolling a fleet of new bin lorries despite the service being carried out by a private company.

Whichever firm takes on the contract, with the current deal with Serco set to expire in August next year, would be responsible for designing, sourcing and repairing the new fleet.

The estimated cost of a new fleet would be £2 million, to be paid out next year.

However, the council is to ask that new vehicle designs feature improved technology such as 360 degree cameras.

These cameras could be used to keep refuse collectors safe, ensure bins are collected consistently and on time, and spot potential fly-tipping.

New details, such as those mentioned, of the new Dales waste contract are to form the basis of a meeting next week (Tuesday, March 14) at which councillors will debate what they want from the new deal – so that firms can begin to bid.

The current deal with Serco, which began in 2012, costs the district council £1.9 million per year and the authority has been on the hunt for a replacement – with eight firms currently being courted.

It says that the current service cannot remain the same due to changes in the market, including the value of recyclable material and continued pressures on the council’s finances.

The authority says that the current contract would cost £2.5 million a year if it was awarded under current market pressures, which would be “unaffordable”. The council’s total annual budget is around £35 million a year.

In November, councillors agreed to bring in an annual charge for garden waste pick-ups.

Meanwhile, the potential change to make residual waste pick-ups three-weekly instead of fortnightly, remains on the table, but midway through the proposed eight-year contract (2024).

Council officers say that the current national average price for garden waste collections is £40 per year. If introduced, they say that this could bring in an extra £454,000 a year – offsetting the cost of the contract itself.

The current aim is for the charged service to begin from April 2021 with the fee to be decided once the cost of the contract is decided – and councillors will have to approve it.

The district currently caters for 34,000 households and has the best recycling rate of any local authority in Derbyshire at 57 per cent.

However, this remains below the target set by central government of 60 per cent, which is thought to be set to rise to 65 per cent.

A report ahead of next week’s meeting says: “The waste and recycling service is one of the most fundamental statutory services performed by the district council and is, perhaps, the most high profile service received by the public.

“It therefore needs to meet the demands of the public whilst recognising recent changes in the waste management industry.”

The report states that potential bidders were unwilling to accept the current rate of 100 per cent liability for the service – if anything were to wrong or if more money is required to keep it going.

One example of this, the council says, is the fluctuating value of dry recyclable materials – in a sense, the financial motivation for a private firm to  provide a waste collection service.

Potential firms suggested a 50/50 risk split through to a 10/90 share – in favour of the contractor.

The council has instead proposed a 70/30 risk share, saying “an unreasonable balance of risk could reduce the likelihood of bidding”.

All but one of the bidders said that they would want the council to pay for a new fleet of bin lorries but that they would want to be responsible for designing and ordering them.

The district council would assess whether the bidding firm has taken full account of the many narrow lanes and roads, and steep hills, throughout the Dales, in designing its fleet.

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