I WOULD like to take this opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings around the joint waste contract it is proposed we enter into with Wychavon and Worcester City councils.
Firstly, we have made no decision to contract this work out at this time. All we have agreed is to seek tenders to determine if using one private company to provide waste collection, street cleaning and other environmental services to all three South Worcestershire councils could save money, while maintaining or even improving the standard of service to residents.
It is estimated Malvern Hills District Council alone could save up to £500,000 through such a contract. These savings would come through efficiencies, such as the use of a single fleet of vehicles and rationalised collection rounds, not through cuts in the standard of the service. The contract would allow us to demand the standards of performance we want and there would be penalties for poor performance, so we would still have control.
Using a private company is nothing new. Councils up and down the country do it. Neighbouring Wychavon has been using a private company to collect their bins since 1991 and has seen performance improve.
People have also been quick to predict this contract will result in the end of weekly rubbish collections. Although Worcester City and Wychavon District already operate alternate weekly collections, the contract does not mean we have to move away from our current system and we will certainly not be forced by others into any change as some claim.
Any move away from weekly collections could only happen after being debated and voted on by full council and after consultation with residents.
We know bin collections are one of the services residents value most and the current team are doing a fantastic job, but the financial climate we operate in is getting tougher.
The Business Rates refund we must give back to GP surgeries will have a huge impact and by December we will know how deep future cuts to our budgets will be on top of the £1.4million reduction in our government funding we have received so far.
If we’re going to balance the books and maintain a financially secure council capable of delivering all the services our residents need, then we need to consider all the options. That is what we are doing.