Council could save £72m in proposed new waste deal

Alasdair Slessor, Enterprise's operations director

A DEAL is on track to be signed that will save Edinburgh City Council almost £72 million, but see jobs lost and rubbish collections become fortnightly.

The proposed waste shake-up was revealed in a council report published today. It names private firm Enterprise as the “preferred bidder” to be awarded the task of delivering the council’s environmental services.

Enterprise promises to save the council £71.6 million over the seven year contract term, with financial penalties possible if it does not achieve its targets.

The deal, which will affect 800 staff, is due to be signed next week, concluded by the end of November, and become operational by the end of February 2012.

Enterprise, whose track record includes operating similar contracts in Liverpool and London’s Islington, will put more giant communal recycling bins onto the streets of Edinburgh.

Houses will be provided with new recycling wheelie bins for paper, plastic, cans, glass and cardboard, while flats will be given more on-street recycling bins to encourage less waste being sent to landfill.

The food waste collections already planned by the council will go ahead, and collections will still take place every week. However, landfill and recycling waste collections will alternate, meaning normal rubbish collections will be fortnightly.

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.”

The 800 staff currently working in Edinburgh’s waste and environmental services department will be transferred over to Enterprise on the same terms and conditions, including bin-men who have been on ‘work-to-rule” for over two years.

Mr Turley admitted, however, that he could not promise secure jobs after the transfer.

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

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

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

If the contract is signed, Enterprise will have beat competitors such as Kier and Shanks, who entered a joint bid.

Alasdair Slessor, Enterprise’s pperations director, said: “We’re delighted that officers of the City of Edinburgh Council have recommended to appoint us as their partner for environment services. We look forward to welcoming the team into the new organisation and to harnessing their skills, experience and local knowledge as we improve existing services and develop new ones.”