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Future of waste services in Bridgend discussed

Bridgend County Borough Council's Civic Offices on Angel Street (Pic: Bridgend County Borough Council)

BRIDGEND Council will look at the potential for taking control of waste services in the borough after 2026 by bringing the service in-house or using a council-owned trading company to run them.

The discussion over the future of the services was held at a cabinet meeting where officers talked members through a published report on the options for the county’s waste and recycling services.

They came after control over the services changed hands in April 2024 with Plan B Management Solutions Ltd taking over the operation from Kier Services Limited on a two-year interim basis.

The transfer was approved in order to give the council time to look at options for how they want the service to run in the future with three potential plans presented to both the cabinet and those at a scrutiny committee.

These included bringing waste and recycling services back in-house within the council’s control, transferring the service into a local authority trading company known as a latco (local authority trading company), or re-procuring a new external waste services contractor after 2026.

While all three of these options were said to have a number of pros and cons in a report carried out by specialists Eunomia the highest-ranked option was in re-procurement as it was said to have one of the lowest costs at £9.3m as well as having the lowest risk for the authority.

However after a lengthy and “healthy” debate a number of councillors rejected the officers’ recommendation of re-procurement and said they weren’t yet ready to make the decision.

Some also felt there could be a significant risk in agreeing to the re-procurement option at such an early stage in case no-one put in a bid, noting how many other councils across Wales ran waste and recycling services in-house.

Councillor Rhys Goode said regardless of ideological views the role of the council was to provide the best services to residents for the best value possible even if that meant out-sourcing.

Others, such as Cllr John Spanswick and deputy leader Jane Gebbie, said they wanted more information on the potential for the council to set up a  local authority trading company as they believed it could allow for more flexibility along with the potential to generate income.

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Cllr Spanswick said: “As waste and recycling services affect every household in the county borough I believe that we should be looking at
options which incorporate greater, more direct accountability for how that operates.

“We would like to know more on issues such as whether bringing the service in-house or providing it as a latco might allow the council to retain greater flexibility and control around how waste and recycling collections operate, how we could react to changing market conditions, and whether we would have greater freedom in dealing with emerging new targets and statutory requirements.

“As this is closely in line with suggestions put forward by the recent scrutiny committee we think it is definitely worth finding out more about these options before a final decision is made.”

Council leader Huw David said the decision should be about quality as well as costs. He added: “My contribution, for what it’s worth, is that which ever option we pursue we have to do as much preparation as we can now to make sure that option is successful.”

After debating the options members agreed not to proceed with procuring an external contractor but asked officers to bring back another report looking at whether a latco arrangement might be able to include additional council services alongside waste and recycling as well as what an in- house service might look like.

It was also noted that a new fleet of waste vehicles would be purchased by 2026 regardless of which of the three options were selected for the future of the service.