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Agenda item

Refuse Collection and Street Cleansing Contract

Summary:

 

1.         This is a Key Decision as the Council:

 

a)    will incur expenditure or savings beyond the threshold agreed by the Council; and

 

b)    the proposal to tender for the refuse collection and street cleansing contract is significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area of the Borough comprising two or more wards.

 

2.         To seek approval to the retendering of the Council’s contract for refuse collection and street cleansing services post June 2019.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That the Strategic Director (External Services) be authorised to retender the Council’s contract for refuse collection and street cleansing services.

 

2.         That, following completion of the procurement process, a further report be submitted seeking approval to award the new contract.

Minutes:

This report sought approval to the retendering of the Council’s contract for refuse collection and street cleansing services post June 2019.

 

  • The Waste and Parks Manager talked Members through the Council’s current waste, recycling and street cleansing responsibilities and noted how the new contract would be worth approximately £3m a year and would run for 8 years with an option to extend for a further 8 years. He then noted how services vary between local authorities and said that the current service being provided in Dartford delivered approximately 25% of all rubbish to be recycled, 1% to be sent to landfill, and the remainder sent for incineration. He then noted that if the current arrangements were continued then these figures were unlikely to change. He then said that the need for a new contract gave the Council an opportunity to change the collection arrangements and referred to the Nominal Optimal Method (NOM) being used by other local authorities, which delivered a weekly food waste and fortnightly garden, recycling and general waste collection service. He said that the NOM service option would enable the Council to achieve a recycling rate of around 45%. The Waste and Parks Manager then referred to the associated costs and said that by combining the tendering process with other local authorities (in Dartford’s case this would be with Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils) cost reductions could be achieved, and that the resulting overall contract value of approximately £80m would make it attractive to bidders. He also noted the intention to consult further with residents on the services that they would prefer to receive. He then advised that this report only gave authority to progress with the tendering process and said that the final decision relating to the services that will be provided by the new contract would be contained in a future report.

 

  • In response to a question on associated timescales the Waste and Parks Manager anticipated that the request for tenders would be issued in December 2017 with responses being received back by March/April 2018. These would then be assessed and the associated decision on the types of service to be provided would be made by May/June 2018, which would allow a year for the new service to be prepared and put in place.

 

  • Members noted how those local authorities that had been proposed as tendering partners were not those who have boundaries with Dartford. The Waste and Parks Manager explained that Gravesham and Sevenoaks had originally been part of the group but had since dropped out and had decided to arrange their waste collection services independently. He then said that the sharing of a border was not a requirement for two or more local authorities to tender together and noted how, by combining their needs, specialised vehicles, such as those designed for the collection of clinical waste or the sweeping of wide roads, could be purchased and shared between authorities in a cost effective way.

 

  • Members referred to the delays that are often experienced at the Pepper Hill waste transfer station and asked whether, by combining with other local authorities, other options for waste processing would be made available. The Waste and Parks Manager replied that the contractors that were running the facility at Pepper Hill were struggling to meet their contractual requirements, which was leading to tipping delays. He then noted that Kent County Council (KCC) were carrying out a waste infrastructure review but was not confident that a solution to the situation at Pepper Hill would be found. He said that this was the only transfer station available for Dartford’s use and that the creation of a new contract would not change this. He noted that Dartford Council had suggested changes that could be made, and had also suggested that they use a facility in Crayford for recyclable waste, but said that KCC had not progressed any of the changes that had been proposed.

 

  • In response to a question the Waste and Parks Manager confirmed that the three local authorities involved in the tendering process could choose to provide different services, although he noted that there would be better cost savings if they all decided to provide the same service. He then noted how Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils had already agreed to provide the NOM service.

 

  • Members then referred to the public consultation process and asked whether the Council would be taking a preferred position when approaching residents. The Lead Member for Waste and Recycling said that the tendering exercise would enable the relative costs of each service option to be assessed and, if available, the potential impacts on Council Tax levels could be presented to residents for consideration. He said that the consultation exercise would also enable the Council to see if residents’ views on their preferred level of service had changed since they were last consulted. The Waste and Parks Manager advised that the format of the consultation was still being developed and that the way that the two main service options were to be presented was still to be decided. He also noted how residents can initially express concern when changes are proposed, but then find that they prefer the new service once it has been implemented and is seen to be running smoothly. He said that by tendering for the differing service options a decision on the Council’s preferred option can be made based on the relative costs involved. Given the short timescales involved one Member suggested that the public consultation should have been carried out at an earlier stage so that the preferred requirements of residents could have been included as part of the tendering process.

 

  • In response to a question relating to the possible collection of recycling waste weekly and general waste fortnightly the Waste and Parks Manager said that anything was possible and that it was up to the Council to set the required service levels, although the impact of a change such as this would be difficult to assess. He said that the Council’s current recycling collection tonnage was very good and that other local authorities that were achieving higher recycling rates than Dartford were doing this by offering a separate food waste, and better garden waste, collection service.

 

  • Members noted that the NOM service would collect food waste weekly and it was confirmed that a smaller vehicle would be required to carry out this aspect of the service and that, being smaller, access to those areas where parking causes problems for larger refuse vehicles would not be an issue. It was thought that information such as this should be highlighted as part of the public consultation to allow people to make an informed decision.

 

  • Members asked to be kept informed as the public consultation is prepared and the tendering process is progressed.

 

  • The Advisory Panel endorsed the report’s recommendations.

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