City to save £72m as private firm lined up to empty bins

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THE council is to save almost £72 million as part of a proposed shake-up that would see more giant communal recycling bins introduced to the Capital’s streets.

A council report published today has revealed that private firm Enterprise has been lined up as “preferred bidder” to take over a raft of council environmental services.

The company, which operates similar contracts in Liverpool and London’s Islington, plans to save the council £71.6m over the seven-year contract, which councillors will be asked to sign off next week.

It can also face financial penalties if it does not achieve tough targets on its performance.

Residents in houses will be given new recycling wheelie bins, into which they can put all their paper, plastic, cans, glass and cardboard.

People in flats will get more multi-use, on-street recycling bins, in order to encourage them not to send waste to landfill.

Mark Turley, director of the services for communities department, said: “We have here a very exciting outcome that will go before councillors for a decision next Thursday.

“I’m really pleased because we have negotiated an exciting opportunity to increase recycling significantly, improve cleanliness on our streets and improve our parks.

“And you can add in the opportunity to do that while making significant savings.”

A roll-out of food waste collections, already planned by the council, will go ahead, with food waste and garden waste being the only other recycling collections that are not within one container.

Collections will take place every week but will alternate between recycling and residual waste, meaning that normal waste collections will become fortnightly.

The year-on-year savings that the Enterprise bid will make for the council start at £5m a year initially before rising to £12m per year from the fourth year.

The company scored better than a bid by a joint venture of Kier and Shanks.

Under the agreement, the 800 staff affected by the changes, including the bin men who have been on a “work-to-rule” for more than two years, will transfer to Enterprise on the same terms and conditions.

However, Mr Turley admitted that there would be job losses further down the line.

He said: “The 800 are guaranteed to transfer over, but such is the [economic] position they are not guaranteed to be there forever, but that would have been the case anyway.”

The contract would be concluded with Enterprise by the end of November and the arrangements would become operational between January and the end of February 2012.

Alasdair Slessor, Enterprise’s operations director, said: “We look forward to welcoming the team into the new organisation and to harnessing their skills.”

Council leader Cllr Jenny Dawe, said: “I appreciate that this is a difficult time for staff. It is important to emphasise that no decision has been taken on the proposal at this stage.”