Councillors to throw out bin privatisation

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PLANS to privatise a series of council services, including bin collections and street cleaning, were set to be killed off today at a crunch meeting to decide the future of the services.

Councillors were meeting in the City Chambers to debate the environmental service contract that officials had wanted to outsource to private firm Enterprise.

Late-night discussions between the SNP and Labour groups resulted in a joint position, expected to be supported by the Greens, that will defeat the proposal and instead opt for an alternative that would keep the jobs within the council.

Lib Dem and Tory councillors were preparing to vote for outsourcing, but that was not expected to be enough to get the contract approved.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, leader of the SNP group and deputy council leader, said: “We believe the public sector comparator [PSC], or in-house bid, presents a positive way forward for the council.

“There are a huge number of improvements and efficiencies in the PSC and we have assurances from trade unions and the workforce that they will embrace these changes.”

The in-house bid was expected to be supported by all 15 Labour councillors and three Green councillors. SNP councillor Nick Elliot-Cannon is not able to vote because a close relative works for Enterprise, while the other 12 SNP councillors were expected to support the in-house option. It is understood that one Lib Dem councillor was set to break from his group and also vote for keeping the services within the council. The remaining 15 Lib Dems, as well as 11 Conservatives, were set to vote for outsourcing the services.

The only way the Enterprise bid would be able to succeed was if the three pro-PSC groups were unable to agree on a joint position.

Estimates from council officials indicate the in-house bid will deliver up to £45 million of savings, compared with between £51m and £72m from the Enterprise option.

Lib Dem councillor Phil Wheeler, the city’s finance leader, said: “If the council decides to adopt the PSC on purely political grounds, I hope those who vote to support it will think carefully of the consequences of passing up the potential savings available from the outside bidder, not to mention the cost of possible claims against the council for a failure to adopt best value.”