Greens welcome continuation of innovative Bristol Waste Company contract but ask Cabinet to improve accountability
This evening, Bristol City Council’s Cabinet awarded a 10 year contract to Bristol Waste Company. 1 BWC is an ‘arms-length’ company which is 100% owned by the Council but operates as a ‘Teckal’ company 2 – an innovative model which encapsulates the benefits of both the public and private sectors.
The decision follows a 1-year pilot of the new company, after the contract with the previous service provider, Kier Environmental Services, was terminated by mutual agreement in June 2015.
Former Green councillor Daniella Radice, who spearheaded the pilot when she was Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, remarked:
“It's good to see that Bristol Waste Company is going from strength to strength. Waste management is the one council service that affects every single household in the city, so it is important to get right.”
Concern has been raised about waste and recycling services in the last year, although recent performance reports, reviewed by councillors on the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny committee, show that the new Teckal company has been slowly turning around performance since they took over. For example, the percentage of municipal waste sent to landfill (instead of being sent for reuse, recycling or composting) is still above the target, but has improved in the last 12 months.3
However, Green councillors are concerned about precisely how arms-length the company will be! Several interface staff roles in the Council will be made obsolete as part of the new contract. The roles are currently held by staff with significant expertise in waste management.
Councillor Carla Denyer, who has been sitting on the Neighbourhood Scrutiny committee for the last year, explains:
“We need to ensure the Council retains enough in-house expertise to challenge BWC and hold them to account throughout the 10 year contract. We support the principle of a council-owned waste company, but are concerned that the change in interface with BWC will make it harder for councillors and the public to get issues fixed."
Cabinet report: Proposals for Future Waste Collection, Street Cleansing and Winter Maintenance Service here>>
A summary of the advantages of Teckal companies here>>
Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission - Q4 Outturn Performance Report - 2015/16 here>> (page 8)
Question submitted by Cllr Martin Fodor to Cabinet meeting here>>