Gerwyn Jones provided an overview of Waste Management Services and highlighted that the service itself had a high profile in terms of the public. The background to the previous strategy and the need for a new one to set out the future direction of the service was provided. Reference was made to the household waste sites, waste transfer stations, contracted out facilities and the kerbside collection model as outlined in the report. A brief explanation of the current co-mingled service implemented in 2019 was provided along with the WG’s preferred method of kerbside sort, as published in WG’s Collections Blueprint in 2012. In moving forward, there will be significant pressures to save money- there were currently 9 large lorries (worth around £186,000) and 7 smaller lorries (worth around £136,000) in the fleet which will be due for replacement in 3-4 years. Due to the lead-in time for vehicles and the lengthy options appraisal process, it is vital to consider the strategic way forward for Ceredigion. Opportunities such as the recent offer of purchasing two 26-ton lorries for £155,000 each as opposed to £272,000 with the support of government grants need to be considered. The Officer gave an overview of the proposed scope of the consultancy work.
Members asked many questions relating to their area of interest which were answered in turn by Gerwyn Jones. The main points raised are as follows:
· The appointment of independent consultants to undertake the work would follow the usual processes.
· A new fleet of vehicles will need to be in place by 2027-28- due to the complex technology required and the need to consider different options, the work needs to begin imminently.
· Staffing pressures were highlighted- although the team is near capacity, the service runs at 70% staffing levels due to annual leave, training and illness. In addition, the Council are not immune to the lack of HGV drivers and technicians- there are training programmes to attract staff. As the waste service is a priority for the department, staff in other roles with HGV licences are shared and agency staff are used occasionally.
· Concerns that the same routes are impacted on Bank Holidays as most are on Mondays. As staff were not contracted to work bank holidays, revising staff contracts was suggested and also a retained scheme similar to the fire service. Further suggestions were welcomed by the officer.
· Members reported that they increasingly receive calls from the public around waste collections. The officer suggested directing the public to Clic or the Council’s website, where efforts were made to share information around changes to services including performance indicators.
· In response to a member’s question about electric lorries, the officer explained that the staff had trialled a lorry and it had gone well but at present, the lorries were worth around £450,000 each. Consideration should be given if the lorries become more affordable.
· Concerns around where waste was sent to following collections; the officer felt that many issues should be considered internationally but the county had a role to influence change. The level of waste in Ceredigion is not enough to warrant an investment in technology to deal with it.
· As more LAs adopt the WG Blueprint, there were risks that fewer grants would be made available for LAs who decide against adopting it.
· In terms of whether officers would be able to undertake the work proposed for consultants and to contact LAs who have already adopted the kerbside sort, the officer advised that there was no capacity in the team given the workload and managerial responsibilities on staff.
· The officer clarified that some machinery was leased. It was important to be dynamic and consider the best opportunities available at the time with the support of the Finance and Procurement department.
· Inspection of the vehicles was done internally every 6 weeks and if required, any further work was done locally. The only vehicles that were returned to the dealers for work were those under warranty or if expertise was needed. The longer the lorries were off the road, the greater the impact on services.
· It was highlighted that a change in services would raise problems and so consulting with members who represent Ceredigion’s residents was vital throughout the process before decisions were made.1500 responses were received following the last public consultation.
· The effectiveness of kerbside sort in different areas (e.g urban vs rural) and type of properties (HMO vs detached house) within the county would vary.
Members expressed their gratitude to the staff, who worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and for their continued efforts.
Following a lengthy discussion, members agreed to the following:
· Note the current situation, identified risks and need for a service review
· Note the appointment of independent consultancy service to undertake the service review, in close liaison with the waste service
· Note that the service review will be limited, in broad terms, to the scope set out in this report
· Agree that the Committee takes an active role in the project and a leading role in the political engagement and approvals process