Council plans to bin private company in charge of its refuse collections

PUBLISHED: 14:00 05 November 2018

Tower Hamlets Council plan to bring its refuse collection back in-house. Picture: Mike Brooke.

Tower Hamlets Council plan to bring its refuse collection back in-house. Picture: Mike Brooke.

Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets Council is likely to bring its rubbish collection facilities back in-house in a bid to improve an “inconsistent” service.

Last week mayor John Biggs said the borough would “move toward” ditching outside waste management companies after its contract with Veolia expires in March 2020.

A cabinet report states that the council has received some complaints about the current service.

It notes: “There has been a lack of consistent performance improvement across, waste, recycling and cleansing services provided by Veolia over the last three years.

“This lack of consistent improvement can be linked to a drop in resident satisfaction and sense of frustration by resident with quality of service delivery.

“Even though Veolia have been working closely with the council, the delivery of continuous improvement, innovation and efficiencies has not been forthcoming.

“This can be linked to inconsistency in management, supervision and accountability of frontline teams to deliver services ‘right first time’ for resolving service failures and improving customer care.”

Veolia is one of the country’s biggest waste removal contractors and has contracts with some 40 local authorities across the UK.

Dozens of Veolia employees and Unite members picketed the meeting, stressing that they had received little information about what would happen to their jobs after the services were brought in-house.

Robin Payne, senior council officer, said: “This is one area I know that has been of concern to the union. There has been no been direct communication with Unite until this week, but there has been some discussion with other members of other unions.”

Cabinet member for environment, David Edgar, said: “Clearly these services are important to residents. Satisfaction has stalled and fallen in two areas. There is pressure on us to do better in areas around recycling.

“Staff who are transferred to the council, there are clearly benefits, such as the local authority pension. “

Opposition councillor Andrew Wood said there was “a lot of work” that needed doing in the 17 months before the Veolia contract ends.

He said: “There are a lot of issues we need to flesh out. It is not going to be a success if we don’t bring over the staff.”

Agreeing plans to move toward bringing the waste removal services under council control, Mr Biggs said: “We recognise the anxiety that workers are feeling. In the next week I’m happy to talk and meet with local representatives with Unite.”

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