FORTNIGHTLY refuse collections could be ‘forced upon’ Malvern after plans to privatise the service moved a step closer, a councillor has warned.
Malvern Hills District Council currently provides a weekly in-house waste service but is considering joining forces with neighbouring councils and employing a private contractor, which could save up to £500,000 a year.
And at an executive committee meeting last Tuesday (July 28) the council approved plans to test how the service would run alongside Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council.
However Coun Tony Warburton said the joint arrangement was unwanted and the council, themselves, could find ways of make immediate savings of £194,000.
“On our own we would have a restricted choice and would get what the contractors offer at their price,” he said. “Fortnightly general waste collection would, eventually, be forced upon us.
“What a fixation with apparent cost saving could end up with is the surrender of control of our most important and salient policy area. Once we have hollowed out our collection provision there will be no going back.
“I am not against using private sector providers. I know, however, doing so would put MHDC at the mercy of a market that prefers large customers, not small and desperate ones.”
Coun Warburton also raised fears over Globe Environmental Consultancy, appointed to offer advice to the local authority, and asked if council bosses were satisfied taking information from a ‘one man band’.
Coun Julian Roskams added: “This ties us down for the next 20 years and I simply don’t believe when you give a private sector contractor a 20-year contract the service level can be adequately maintained.
“The contractor will be in a position to extract maximum profit for the minimum service level and there will be absolutely nothing we can do about it.”
But Ivor Pumfrey, head of community services at the council, said ‘positive opportunities’ would come from the agreement – including potential savings of 16 per cent.
Coun Melanie Baker added: “Waste collection is waste collection and quite frankly all I am interested in is when I put my waste out in a morning I come home at the end of the day and it has gone.
“I don’t mind if a wagon turns up with MHDC on the side or if it is pink with yellow dots on.
“One of the priorities of the Conservatives was we would safeguard weekly waste collection and as long as our residents want it we will deliver it.”
New amendments tabled to take the proposal to ONS and to test MHDC as an individual council were both rejected.
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