Camden presses ahead with fortnightly bin collections as Veolia is awarded £200 million contract
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Camden Council is set to press ahead with introducing fortnightly waste collections for around half the borough after a rebellion against a new £200 million contract with existing provider Veolia was derailed.
A group of Conservative opposition councillors had “called in” the decision to award Veolia the new eight-year contract, worth more than £23 million a year, but this was voted down at an environment scrutiny committee meeting at the town hall.
Tory group leader Claire-Louise Leyland had argued that residents were not properly consulted over the contract - claiming the whole process had been “a little bit cloak and dagger”.
But head of environmental services Richard Bradbury produced a report recommending going ahead with the contract – arguing that a delay could leave the council vulnerable to legal challenges from the contract bidders.
His report argues that formal consultation was not required for procurement and that a public engagement exercise, known as the Camden Waste Challenge, was used to ask householders’ views last year.
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It adds that while residents’ opinions are “extremely valued”, the complexity of the procurement process does not lend itself to a residents’ panel approach, as Cllr Leyland had called for.
The new contract is set to come into force next April, when the current contract expires, and will see around half the homes in the borough switched to fortnightly collections of non-recyclable waste, while all households will continue to receive weekly recycling collections.
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The council is yet to announce which homes will receive the less frequent collections, but it will be decided according to how much space households have for storage - meaning that blocks of flats and estates should not be impacted.
Households deemed to have “sufficient space” will be provided with a wheelie bin, and those without enough room will be given council-branded sacks - which they will have to use, or risk not having their rubbish collected.
Meric Apak, Camden’s environment chief, said the changes are designed to encourage recycling after research revealed 70 per cent of the contents of an average Camden rubbish bin are recyclable.
Cllr Apak said: “Residents have told us that they support increasing recycling in Camden, and reducing the amount of waste produced.”
Other proposals include the introduction of £75 annual charge to collect green waste, which the Tories have said is an unfair “garden tax”.
The proposed new contract is designed to save the council around £5 million to help mitigate the effects of funding cuts from central government.
French company Veolia pipped reserve bidder, Serco, to the lucrative contract, with Amey also making the final stages.
The contract will initially run until 2025, with an option to extend for a further 8 years.
In 2012, Veolia attracted criticism because of its dealings with Israel - which it has since ended.
The contract will now proceed to go before a meeting of the full council for final approval.