Bin collections: ‘The whole plan will need close scrutiny’

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So there it is in black and white after months of speculation and increasingly rancourous debate – the first clear evidence of what “privatising” some council services would mean for the Capital.

Savings of up £72 million in taxpayers’ money over seven years, compared with £45m savings identified by the council if it kept environmental services in-house.

There will be financial penalties payable to the city if the contractor fails to double recycling rates – saving Edinburgh from the threat of EU fines – and improve public satisfaction with bin collections and street cleaning.

And the growing mass of recycling bins and bags clogging our kitchens will be replaced with a single recycling bin.

As the Americans would say, what’s not to like?

Of course, there are downsides, there always are to any deal.

The 800 staff affected will have fears about their future. We don’t yet know how many jobs might go to create the long-term savings of £12m a year but efficiencies on that scale never come without pain.

The guarantee of a job with the new company, at least initially, and protection for their terms and conditions is perhaps the best they could have hoped for in the current climate.

Staying with the council is, of course, no longer a guarantee of a job for life. And we have to believe that whoever drew up the contract with its penalty clauses did a better job than those who worked on the tram project.

Now the political tit-for-tat will get into full flow.

And the whole plan will have to be closely scrutinised to see whether it really does deliver a great leap forward in terms of quality of service and value for money.

Those are the yardstick against which the options must be measured if our beleaguered public services are to emerge stronger from the current crisis.

Ali wins by KO

it is impossible to know how you would react to being confronted by an axe-waving thug until you find yourself facing the full horror.

But you can be sure that most people would not do what brave Mohammed Ali did when his Muirhouse shop was raided.

The 53-year-old pulled out a stick to beat off his attacker – and then chased him down the road.

With that kind of grit and no-nonsense attitude there is surely nothing he cant sort out.

What a shame he wasn’t put in charge of the tram shambles.