Southend Council embroiled in waste management row

Rubbish is spilling out onto the streets of Southend, bin collections could be halved, and attempts to stop public scrutiny “stink”.

That is the verdict on Southend Council, after bosses decided to hear a controversial report on waste management behind closed doors.

Two special meetings will be held on Monday evening, discussing proposals including the introduction of wheelie bins and bi-weekly rubbish collections.

But both press and public will be barred from attending.

Councillor Tony Cox, leader of Conservative group said: “I think this has been done to try to prevent any scrutiny or debate. The single most important issue for every resident is to have their waste collected promptly.

“The principles of the report should be discussed in public in a council debate. It stinks.”

Community campaigner Julian Lowes, of Seaforth Road, Westcliff, added: “What they are trying to put through could be a done deal. It makes me angry, but I think it’s something we’ve come to expect from local and national government.

“What they are proposing will cause major issues. The rubbish on the street now is appalling because people simply don’t have the space to store it.

“We should find out how much it costs them to employ extra people going round picking up this spilled rubbish.”

The two meetings are of the council cabinet and the place scrutiny committee.

The council is legally bound to hear confidential financial details in private, but Cllr Cox said that some details of the proposals could be held in public.

Paul Collins, councillor responsible for corporate services and performance delivery, said: “It is because the papers centre on the value we have with (waste contractor) Veolia. We have to discuss it in private.

“It’s difficult discussion but we are having a meeting with cabinet to see if there is any element that we can have in public. The law says we have to go into private session when finances are discussed.”

Southend Council has fallen short of its 50 per cent target for recycling in the last two years, achieving only 43.7 per cent in 2020/21.

As a result, bosses have looked at how other authorities have achieved better results, such as Rochford where waste and recycling are collected every fortnight rather than weekly

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter