Southend fortnightly waste collection plan set to stay

Plans for fortnightly wheelie bin collections in Southend are unlikely to be scrapped under a new administration after the Labour leader revealed his “hands are tied”.

A Labour-led coalition with Lib Dems and Independent councillors is set to take control of Southend City Council but leaders have revealed it is highly unlikely they will reverse the unpopular proposals for a new waste contract.

The current waste contract with Veolia runs out in 2025 and a new contract is set to include wheelie bins, rather than waste sacks, collected every two weeks.

Concerns have been raised that properties in built up areas may not have room for wheelie bins and collection day could prove chaotic as waste trucks carry out collections.

Daniel Cowan, leader of the Labour Group, said: “Unfortunately our hands are tied. We’re far too far along the contract negotiations to move goal posts now. The current administration set out the contract details in October.

“They said it would be fortnightly and all the contractors have submitted their bids on that and if we were to change it now we would leave ourselves very exposed.”

Martin Terry, spokesman for the Independent Group said details of the contract still had to be ironed out.

He said: “There are some key issues that need to be addressed, promises we made to our electorate which I would expect to be addressed in whatever deals we do.

“The problem we now have is that the tendering process that the Conservatives committed to back in October to a fortnightly collection and we are very late in the process now. What needs to be done is a cast iron assurance that whatever system we have works for the residents.”

Cllr Terry added: “There’s going to have to be a hybrid system because there are variable types of services that need to be offered. My primary thing is that we don’t create a mess and we want our streets to be tidy.”

A vote to go forward on the waste contract, including fortnightly collections, was deferred by the Conservatives until after the local elections because they alleged the issue was being used as a political football. The vote will now take place at full council under the new administration.

Tony Cox, the present Tory leader of the council, said: “In their election literature they said the contract could be overturned. Here we go, broken promise number one. We did say if they wanted to make changes they could because we didn’t take the final paper through.

“Coalition of chaos already.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter