Bristol City Council to take waste services in house

Bristol City Council announced today (12 June) that it has ‘mutually agreed’ with Kier (formerly May Gurney) to end the current waste collection and street cleansing contract, as the council intends to bring the services in house.

Over the next month, a handover period will see employees, vehicles, equipment and facilities move across to the new council-owned company, Bristol Waste Company (BWC). It is anticipated that the new service will start on 1 August 2015.

The move, which will be subject to a settlement agreement between the council and Kier, was approved at a Bristol City Cabinet meeting on Thursday 11 June.

The council is reassuring residents that ‘they should expect very little difference in their household bin collections’, though it warns that ‘some short-term teething problems are likely’. Further, the council says that it is still looking ‘in full detail at the best long-term service model’, and only expects the new system to be operated for a year.

Service details

In 2013/14, Bristol City Council recycled or composted 41.5 per cent of waste, a fall of 3.8 per cent on the previous year. After recycling and composting, the council was left with 221.1 kilogrammes of residual waste per person, according to Resource’s residual waste league table, meaning it ranked 51 out of 138 disposal authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For most residents, the council’s recycling service consists of fortnightly collection of residual waste, combined with weekly collection of recyclables in two separate boxes and a food waste caddy, as well as a charged garden waste service.

The council insists ‘no resident’s collection details should change’ as a result of the contract being brought in house.

Exercising ‘more direct control’ over waste services

Councillor Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “By mutually agreeing to end this contract, we will continue to deliver a good quality service to local residents and be able to work towards reducing waste and aiming to increase reuse and recycling rates.

“Ensuring continuity of service during the transition is very important to us, and this mutual termination should support a relatively smooth changeover for this essential statutory service.”

Mayor George Ferguson added: “As European Green Capital, we have bold aspirations to change the way we think about waste as a city, from waste to a resource. We place an increasing emphasis on reuse and recycling and recognise that, after maximising on reuse and recycling, using residual waste as an energy source is better than landfill. We believe that the best way we can do that is to exercise more direct control over our vitally important waste collection and street cleaning services.

“Following negotiations with Kier, we’ve mutually agreed it’s in everyone’s best interests to end our current contract, something which the carefully negotiated deal allows for without penalty.

“The deal should also provide more certainty of service affordability as well as helping us to realise our future ambitions for waste management in the city.”

Julian Tranter, Managing Director of Kier Environmental, commented: “When we acquired May Gurney and took on the delivery of the Bristol contract, we recognised the issues being faced by both the client and the operational team, and we believe we have made good progress in improving service delivery. 

“In parallel we have been working together to review the long term model of service, to find a beneficial solution for both parties, and this has now concluded in agreement to mutually end the contract, and move service provision to a new council-owned company.”

More information about the city’s waste services can be found on Bristol City Council’s website