Hertfordshire councillors highlight change that could save £20m from waste costs

The recommendation will be considered by a meeting of the community safety and waste management cabinet panel

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 5:56 am

A potential opportunity to save an estimated £20million from waste collection and disposal costs across Hertfordshire has been highlighted, as part of the budget setting process at the county council.

Currently the county council is responsible for the disposal of waste from across the county and for the network of household waste and recycling centres.

And the 10 district and borough councils that are responsible for the kerbside collection of waste – and recycling – from homes in their own districts.

Hertfordshire councillors highlight change that could save £20m from waste costs

Under the current system each district or borough can, to some degree, determine its own systems and priorities – and negotiate for contracts and the purchase of vehicles independently.

But as part of a cross-party process to scrutinise the county’s budget proposals, a recommendation has been made for the councils to work in partnership.

“There are opportunities for possible savings of £20m per year around waste,” says a formal recommendation that was accepted by a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday (January 28).

“And we recommend the [community safety and waste management panel] urges the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership to explore the cost and efficiency benefits of a common procurement strategy or other new approaches to waste management across the county.”

It also suggests lobbying government to bring in legislation to achieve change.

The recommendation will now be considered by a meeting of the community safety and waste management cabinet panel – before the budget is determined by the council this month (February).

But no changes could be made without the backing of the district and and borough councils.

At the meeting executive member for community safety and waste management Cllr Terry Hone said: “For many years it’s a known fact that opportunities for efficiency – particularly financial ones – in having a joint waste authority.

“There are regular discussions on this at the Herts Waste Partnership – including most recently the meeting on Monday.”

Cllr Hone said that all districts agreed that the joint procurement of vehicles , bins ‘etc’ was a good idea – but that progress was sometimes limited.

And he said that they would continue to encourage progress, but that ‘politics’ came into the equation when looking at a ‘joint waste authority’.

He said that legally a joint waste authority would be an option available.

“But you can’t force the districts and boroughs to go down that route,” he said.

“All you can do is encourage and that’s what we are doing and have done for many years.”

In response to a further recommendation Cllr Hone agreed to write to the Transport Minister about the cost of transporting waste by rail – concerns relating to the the distance currently travelled by trucks to dispose of waste.

Overall the community safety and waste management portfolio has an annual revenue budget in excess of £85m – which includes the funding of the county’s fire and rescue service.

And if budget proposals are ultimately agreed that will increase to more than £86m next year (2021/22).

Potential savings identified in the portfolio budget proposals include a £30,000 reduction in the trading standards sampling budget (from £90,000 to £60,000) and £45,000 in property efficiencies from the fire and rescue service estate.

Changes in the so-called IRMP proposals for the fire service – including the reduction in crew sizes from five to four – are expected to realise savings of £250,000 ‘with the potential for further savings to be realised, in later years, once all proposals are fully implemented’.

The county council will meet to debate and vote on the budget proposals on February 23. The virtual meeting can be viewed by the public here.