Welcome to the dark side

The community sector is reeling from the news that one of its greatest success stories has ‘sold out’ to the dark side.

ECT has long held the role of the community group they love to hate; the one that grew too big for its boots and took on contracts with suspect practices such as commingled collection rather than lose them to the private sector.

Of course, to the purist this smacked of sell out way before any rumblings in the cellar threatened to bring the house down, although it was all set against a backdrop of a sector that recognised the need to commercialise itself to compete against private waste management companies and the spectre of the integrated contract. ECT was the slightly embarrassing but famous and popular auntie that you wheel out at social functions (substitute for government department meetings) or name drop to the newspapers (ditto trade press) to give you credibility, while all the while suspecting she may be involved in the white slave trade.

With the latest news, the vultures are beginning to circle. It’s no surprise to many that ECT has gone down, but the (comfortable) expectation was that it would respectably go bust; not shamelessly sell itself on the open market.

But those waiting in the wings would do well to remember that had the company done the decent thing and gone bust, the private sector would be circling over those contracts, most likely carving them up and making them their own.

For ECT’s staff, who just want to know whether they’ll be paid at the end of the month, or what the change means for them; job security and work in their community – although not community sector – will be far more important than political affiliation.