Windsor & Maidenhead’s £500,000 waste contract is under fire
The £500,000 spent by the Royal Borough on its waste management contract came back into the spotlight during the budget meeting.
Last year the council switched to bi-monthly black bin collections to improve recycling rates in the borough, meet its climate change targets and save £175,000 a year.
However, it was discovered that the move would actually cost the council £895,000. The contract with SERCO, which collects waste on behalf of the local authority, will cost £500,000 and the need for six additional waste vehicles will cost £395,000.
During the council’s plenary meeting on Tuesday February 22, councilors gathered to debate and vote on the 2022/23 budget, which provides for an increase in council tax of almost 3%.
Opposition members cited other uses the £500,000 spent on the contract could have been invested in.
Liberal Democrat leader Simon Werner said: “You [the Tories] agreed to spend half a million pounds more a year on the waste management contract so they could provide less service. Weird. Almost incompetent.
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He added that the council could have used the money to become “the beating heart of the community” again.
Cllr Amy Tisi (Lib Dem: Clewer East) said the money from this pot could have funded the Breastfeeding Network to help mothers and babies after the grant money was withdrawn, some universal services for families and young children, family support workers or invest in upgrading and improving lighting in areas of the borough where people feel unsafe.
“Lots of choice,” she says.
Senior Environmental Services member Cllr David Coppinger (Con:Bray) said that since the fortnightly change, black bin waste has decreased by 21.49%, food waste has increased by 30.6% and rates of recycling reached 54.1% from October 2021 to January 2022.
“We are achieving what we set out to do,” Cllr Coppinger said.
However, he “accepted” that there have been problems with waste and recycling issues in the past. Cllr Coppinger added: “But I know we have great service.”
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He also said that by adding more waste vehicles and reducing routes, the council can “maximize” recycling capacity and “minimize” its carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con: Boyn Hill), senior member of adult social care, children’s services, health and mental health, said he was working with police and the commissioner to crime to examine dangerous areas and what more can be done.
He also said £1.7million of the council’s public health money will go towards health visits, which includes breastfeeding services.
The 2022/23 budget was approved after the ruling Conservatives and two independent councilors voted in favour.