From Recycling & Waste World 25.11.10
Localism will transform waste services in local government, according to local government expert Nick Sutcliffe of PPS Group, communications specialist.
“The localism agenda is about to burst forward into reality. Among the clauses in the new legislation will be a ‘duty to cooperate’ between local authorities. While this is being driven by the need to replace the previous regional planning coordination with another (lower cost) way to cope with cross-border planning, it’s equally applicable for the sharing of services which is also in vogue to cut costs in local government,” said Sutcliffe.
Councillor Lorna Campbell, Lambeth Council cabinet member for environment, echoed the need to cut costs.
She said: “It’s clear that councils up and down the country are going to have to do more for less and work smarter in the years ahead. Going forward we are exploring whether we can create more ‘shared or federated services’ with neighbouring councils in a number of service areas.
“Waste is one of a number of service areas being looked out, although that is some considerable way off and
will only go ahead if there are clear cost and service improvement benefits.”
However, making cost savings while still maintaining high standards is nothing new for local authorities.
North Norfolk District Council told RWW that along with “efficiencies gained from jointly procuring with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, we have been able to procure a contract that will allow us to maintain the high standards that residents and visitors alike expect from our services (we currently hold the Cleanest District in the Country award), and, indeed, make some small improvements such as the development of bring bank facilities and the introduction of a trade recycling sack service.”
Councils also said they are becoming more aware that while spending needs to be cut, it is also an opportunity to streamline waste services.
A spokesperson from Bristol City Council, who is currently going through the procurement process for a new waste and streetscene contract due to start November 2011, said: “At this stage, we expect we will need to cut spending by around £50 million over the next three years, starting with £22 million in the year beginning next April. But this is not all about cuts. This council is seizing the opportunity to reshape, to become much more efficient – and to change its focus.”
According to Matthew Lugg, Leicestershire County Council’s director of environment and transport: “In Leicestershire, we work in partnership with district and borough councils to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. We are currently in a strong position as the highest performing county partnership for recycling. Our aspiration is to recycle and compost at least 58% of waste by 2017 and we will work in partnership with district and boroughs to achieve this.”
Waste management companies are also keen to promote the benefits of going down the joint working route.
Tom Spaul, chief operating officer at Veolia Environmental Services said: “In the current economic climate more local authorities may consider joint working arrangements and an acceleration of the trend towards greater outsourcing
of services both of contracts as a whole and within an existing contract.
“By working in partnership with local authorities and through joint working initiatives we will strive to achieve ‘more for less’. Veolia is already working with councils who are undertaking joint initiatives and we have recently been awarded a 10-year £70 million contract by the East Kent Joint Waste Partnership,” continued Spaul.
In terms of the growing trend of voluntary co-operation Nick Sutcliffe of PPS Group said that in many ways waste is ahead of the game. He predicted that: “People can expect to see much more cross-border cooperation and joint solutions as the pressure mounts to meet diversion from landfill targets and find ways to do more for less. We also see this in more joined-up approaches between waste collection districts and the disposal county councils with the old barriers coming down.
“Hampshire led with this a few years ago for Project Integra. It was hard work, but the results prove the voluntary co-operation was worth the effort. Councils can’t afford to maintain the old barriers to joint working. Doing more for less is here to stay,” added Sutcliffe.
Written by Nick Sutcliffe