A Labour Party Councillor has branded the current contract arrangement with Serco to collect bins across Welwyn Hatfield as shambolic.
Following a flood of complaints from residents, Labour Councillor James Broach, recently set up a subcommittee to review the contract with Serco, specifically to find out whether there was provision to impose a financial penalty for poor performance. The committee found that although there was a scope for financial penalty, this would only be for a serious long term service failure, and not for simple day to day issues like missed bins.
It also discovered other local authorities such as Watford, have the power to impose financial penalties not only for when a certain number of bins are missed, but also for when missed bins are failed to be returned to within a predefined time period.
Cllr Broach then carried out a benchmarking exercise, comparing the missed bin figures as reported by Serco, which totalled an average of 118 missed bins per 100,000 bins per week (source- quarter 1 2015-16 Serco Logged Misses) – a figure that would trigger the highest possible weekly recharge of £500 in Watford.
On top of this, the Council have themselves admitted that 11% of bins are not returned to within the target time period; which in Watford would result in a penalty for each individual bin that was not returned to.
Purely on missed bins and failed return collections, had Welwyn Hatfield had a similar recharge facility, they would have been able to reclaim £9,000 in the first quarter of 2015-16, based on the figures provided to the council’s Environmental Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Commenting on these findings, Cllr Broach said “I’m angry that the council are seemingly applauding a service that would not be deemed acceptable by other local authorities, and I’m angry that the leadership of Welwyn Hatfield Council have not only failed to impose penalties for poor performance, but actually rewarded it with a long contract!”
“Nothing motivates a contractor like having money taken back off them, especially as they tend to work to very tight margins. I intend to continue asking serious questions as to why we are getting such a poor service, and when, not if, we can expect to see improvements.”
“The council likes to tell local taxpayers what a great job they do and how prudent they are with their money. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg in realising that’s a load of rubbish.”