THE DISTRICT Council is set to overspend on domestic waste collection by £190,000 prompting claims the service is poorly managed.
Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show the council set aside £1,658,380 for refuse and recycling in 2014/2015 but actually estimates spending £1,848,945 in the period.
The enquiry, made by Leigh Sinton resident Sarah Rouse, exposed agency costs and vehicle hire as the two major areas where too much public money is being spent.
This year the council set aside £112,470 for temporary staff yet it projects forking out £385,420, while £100,440 is set to be stumped up for hiring vehicles even though only £6,320 was budgeted.
Ms Rouse’s FOI showed the council has consistently overspent in those two areas since 2011 and consequently overrun the total budget by tens of thousands of pounds per year.
She claimed the council’s decision in 2012 to move to wheeled bins for residential collections had not proved cost effective.
“I am horrified at the overspend given the assurances we were given it would be cost neutral. The council said it would preserve our weekly collections and improve recycling, it has done neither and the increased costs will move us towards privatisation. How badly wrong can you get your budgets?”
Democratic councillor Tony Warburton said the service should not be judged on cost alone and emphasised the importance of keeping weekly collections.
But he added there was a lack of effective management for waste collection and also pointed towards wheeled bins as a major factor for overspending.
“I have little doubt that much of the increase in spending could have been avoided but that much of it has its root in the decision forced upon councillors in 2012.
“All the complaints I have received have been about the imposition of wheeled bins and the likelihood they will be the means by which weekly general waste collection is phased out.”
Last night (Tuesday) after the Observer went to press, the council’s executive committee was due to discuss increasing next year’s budget for waste collection including £160,000 to introduce a new round.
In response to the criticism, Ivor Pumfrey, the council’s head of community services, said: “We have been aware of the cost pressures on our domestic recycling and refuse collection service for some time and have made strenuous efforts to contain them.
“These pressures result from a combination of factors including an increase in the number of households served year-on-year and more recently an increase in the amount of household waste being collected as the economy recovers.
“To meet these pressures in the short-term we have had to deploy additional vehicles and operatives, hence the increased expenditure on agency workers and hired vehicles.”