Slough set to take rubbish collections back in-house … but NOT due to the level of complaints

Slough’s Cabinet was due to vote tonight on whether to terminate its long term relationship with Amey and take waste collection and other services back in-house.

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Slough Borough Council’s Cabinet was being asked tonight to reverse a decision made only six months ago and take key services back in-house.  But the decision has nothing to do with the high level of complaints with current contractor Amey.

In March officers had proposed that the Council should move towards a single ‘strategic partner’ to provide waste collection, waste services, waste management, waste treatment, ‘public realm’ (street cleaning and green estate), highways reactive works, highways and transport capital works and professional services.  The ambitious plan, however, was scaled back to procuring three separate contracts for:

  • Environmental services contract covering most waste services and public realm;
  • Infrastructure services including highways engineering works and highways & transport capital works; and
  • Professional services contract for highways & transport.

Approval was also given to bring together all of the budgets for the services from 2016/17 under a single financial and strategic overview

However Strategic Director for Customer & Community Services, Roger Parkin, wrote in a report to Cabinet members that “following a review of commercial considerations for the Council, including the capacity for income generation, a commercial model has been generated for the provision of Environmental Services and Highways”.

This reassessment led to the recommendation that an in-house model should be adopted from December 2017 onwards.

As a Unitary Council Slough Borough Council is responsible for collection, management and disposal of all municipal waste generated within the borough and all street cleaning, gully and channel sweeping, litter picking and detritus sweeping operations within the borough, grounds maintenance in public spaces including parks, cemeteries and open spaces and highway maintenance including winter maintenance. The Waste Collection / Management, Street Cleaning, Grounds Maintenance and Highways 'reactive work' functions for Slough Borough Council are currently delivered by Amey under the Environmental Services contract which runs until 30 November 2017.

Amey began working with Slough Borough Council in 2002 as part of a 15-year environmental services contract to maintain and improve the local highways network, as well as deliver street cleansing, grounds maintenance, waste and recycling collection services.

It collects waste, recycling and green waste from 51,000 households in the borough, and has been regularly criticised by residents in the parish – particularly in Brands Hill where bin collections are frequently missed.

But the high levels of dissatisfaction with the current service are not behind the change of mind, but an opportunity to establish a revenue-generating opportunity for the Council.

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Amey currently empty the bins for 51,000 households across Slough.  The Council has set itself a target of recycling 60% of its waste by 2028.

Officers are recommending that the Council establish a ‘Teckal company’ limited by shares with the Council as the sole shareholder as the vehicle through which to provide services.

A report to Cabinet members showed that insourcing could result in savings of approximately £1,862,820 against £1,608,800 through outsourcing – however, neither would provide the £2.5 million savings desired.  The move to take services back in-house could provide “greater flexibility for the provision of income generating services” by allowing the Council to offer services to other councils.

“The key differential that influences delivery confidence and therefore the recommendation within this report from a financial perspective is the ability to trade and generate income for the Council”.

Mr Parkin says that an in-house service would ensure that the Council will not pay a profit margin on services provided by the private sector, allowing savings to be passed back to the Council.

Furthermore,

“… insourcing presents further potential opportunities regarding the customer experience and it will also provide more control over controlling the customer journey”.

Reinvigorating the workforce into generating civic pride and pride to work for and in Slough is also a key priority

A key priority would, however, be an enhancement in the delivery of “the customer journey” and providing the “focused, engaged and responsive support of customers and their enquiries”.  The move could also help to “reinvigorate” the workforce, “generating civic pride and pride to work for and in Slough”.

Permission to negotiate an extension of the existing contract as a temporary contingency in the event that, due to unforeseen circumstances, that new arrangements cannot be finalised prior to the existing contract termination date was also requested.

“Cabinet are asked to note the risk of critical service failure by 1st December 2017 if insourced provision is to be coerced by this date and powers are not delegated to be able to extend this contract is deemed absolutely necessary”.

 

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