Council aims to merge Havering public services into one £10m contract

Havering Council wants to give a single company an estimated £10m annual contract to collect its bins, clean streets and control weeds around the borough.

While bin collection and weed control are already outsourced, the council currently cleans Havering’s streets itself, meaning 80 staff will need to be transferred to the chosen company.

The change will also leave the council with a surplus of street-cleaning vehicles, which “will be disposed of through auction”.

While the council states it is “unlikely that any savings will be made”, it hopes combining multiple public services into one contract will “offer overall better value for money”.

A report prepared for the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, July 7 explained the single contract would remove confusion about “who is responsible for litter and spillages in the street” and allow “swifter rectification” of issues.

The council also hopes it will “improve local air quality with the introduction of ULEZ [Ultra Low Emission Zone] compliant vehicles”.

However, the report also acknowledges there are “several financial risks” to the new strategy, including the government adding to the types of recycling councils must collect, making the contract more expensive, or the auctioned-off vehicles not fetching enough money.

It also notes this “may be an unsettling time” for the 80 staff employed by the council’s street-cleaning service but insists all will be “transferred to the winning contractor in a controlled manner”.

The contract will have to be awarded before the current bin collection contract runs out, in July 2023, and will last for eight years, with an option to extend it for a further eight.

The council has been planning the change since late 2019 but put its attempt on hold last September because of market uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter