As people are well aware the Borough Council contract with Enterprise/Amey ends on the 3rd June 2018. Seven years ago Northampton Borough Council entered into this contract along with Daventry District Council. It was a very poorly designed contract and has resulted us being a very dirty town with fly tipping, litter and weeds everywhere.
Daventry District Council also had problems with Enterprise/Amey and have been negotiating a new contract. They have a new contract in place ready to start in June 2018. They have gone for the 1-2-3 schedule. A weekly food waste collection, a fortnightly recycle bin collection and a three weekly collection for non-recyclable waste. I also understand they will be charging £35 per year to empty the Green Garden Waste bin. I do not want this for Northampton.
One thing the Labour Group has welcomed from the Tory Administration at the Guildhall is that recyclable waste will now be co-mingled. One bin for ALL recycling rather than putting them into various boxes. Whilst having various boxes for paper, glass, etc the reality is that in bad weather the waste got thrown about all over the place. Labour once suggested lids for them but this suggestion was rejected by the Tories.
The Labour Group have always been very clear that the service should be brought back in house. That is our first preference. We also suggested to the Tory Administration that they consider an Arms Length Company (a company owned by the Borough Council) to run Environmental Services. Again, this was rejected by the Tories. We keep insisting that the Borough Council put together a small team of officers to work on an in house bid. Again, an idea rejected by the Tories.
When the Tories took the Cabinet decision to look for a new contractor the Labour Group did a “Call-In” and referred the decision to Overview and Scrutiny. An Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard evidence from all sides including from the Tories and the Labour Group. I am pleased to say that our arguments won the day and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed with us.
After the evidence was heard the Overview and Scrutiny Committee accepted the Call-In on the grounds that -
(i) there is the need for wider consultation;
(ii) the recommendations were ill-informed, based on assumptions regarding costs, before quality;
(iii) the areas of methodology used were flawed;
(iv) the contracting out option had been based on a failing contract.
(2) That there is Overview and Scrutiny involvement in the relevant stages of the process.
However the Cabinet did not accept the recommendations from the Call In.
They set up a Scrutiny working group to look at the process only. Labour Councillors sit on this.
Initially there were five expressions of interest form private contractors. This has now been whittled down to two. I can confirm that whilst Enterprise/Amey expressed an initial interest they have not been shortlisted to the final two. I understand that the “winner” will be announced in January. The new contract will be for 10 years with an option for a further 10 years. It is very likely that the new contractor will be based at West bridge depot.
It goes without saying that they next contract must be better than the present one. There needs to be more flexibility in the contract to work with resident associations and parish councils. We have argued that NPH take on looking after their communal areas and we have won that particular suggestion.
Cllr Enam Haque
Shadow Environment Cabinet Member