Council brings waste collection in-house after ‘rubbish’ service

Recycling services will be brought in house

Recycling services will be brought in house by 2020 Pic: Thames Menteth

Waste and recycling services in Tower Hamlets will be returned to council control when private provider Veolia’s contract ends in 2020.

A report to the Tower Hamlets cabinet in October recommended that the creation of in-house services for waste, recycling and cleansing functions would “improve services for residents”.

It also found that the council’s insourcing of waste management services, to take effect from April 2020, would provide “better value for money”.

Key benefits of the arrangements would be improved flexibility, direct control, faster problem solving and increased commercial opportunities, according to the report.

The report attributes waste management problems in the borough to an expanding population, which is projected to increase by almost 60,000 in the next decade.

Waste services are under pressure across the borough

Waste services are under pressure across the borough Pic: Thames Menteth

The number of East End households is likely to increase by another 30,000 by 2028, adding to pressure to improve recycling and reduce waste.

A 2017 annual customer satisfaction survey highlighted a need for improvement, with 48% of residents feeling that rubbish and litter was a ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ big problem in their area.

The approved plans include an allocation of £2.5m to finance the creation of a mobilisation team, which will oversee the development and creation of new in-house services.

A £10m capital investment fund will also be made available for the purchase of a new waste collection fleet, as well as a further £750,000 for new IT systems.

In total, the move will cost Tower Hamlets £18.7m to provide refuse and recycling services as well as street cleansing and other services.

Source: White Young Green Pic: Thames Menteth

A financial assessment by independent waste consultant White Young Green concluded that moving waste management services in-house would deliver savings of £393,000 against current spending with Veolia.

Mayor John Biggs said: “This marks the first step in the council’s move towards the delivery of an improved service. It follows on from our recent waste consultation, which generated a huge range of responses from local people and businesses.”

“It’s an important decision and one I’m determined we get right for both our residents and the staff involved. I am committed to keeping our streets clean, increasing recycling and making the borough cleaner and greener.”

Councillor David Edgar, Cabinet Member for Environment added: “A growing population means increased demand on our waste service. We considered all the options and concluded that bringing services in-house will deliver a better service to our residents.”

Other London councils have also moved to insource their waste services, such as Islington in 2015 and Hounslow in 2016.

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