To inform the Committee of the performance of the joint environmental services contracts during the sixth year of operation.
The committee discussed the annual reports and sought clarification on a number of issues from the officers and representatives of Biffa and idverde who were present.
It was explained that whilst the year had been challenging, the company had continued to grow. The biggest challenge had been the recruitment and retention of staff, although this was an industry-wide problem. The performance on the contract continued to improve year on year and improvements in IT were predicted to enhance the further service in the future.
In response to a question it was confirmed that information on works were available a month in advance, although these were subject to change due to dynamic routing, which made the most efficient use of time and resources. Historic reporting information was also available.
Having floated on the stock exchange for 12 months, Biffa had been in the position to make a number of acquisitions and had an improved financial position. The company was committed to achieving further municipal work and was investigating the use of electric refuse collection vehicles.
Locally, recruitment remained an issue. However, there were currently no driver vacancies and only six loader vacancies. The Winchester City Council area had undertaken a driver apprenticeship scheme and the additional supervisor put in place two years ago would remain.
During the previous 12 months Biffa had achieved a 99.91% collection rate and there had been no lost time due to incidents. Quite a few initiatives were moving forward and an experienced new Business Manager for the contract had been sourced.
In response to questions it was explained that increasing the delivery timescale for bin deliveries from 5 days to 10 days would allow more efficient zone based deliveries and represent an improvement for customers because the delivery day would be known. It was also confirmed that all of the WCC bin collection calendars would be distributed by the end of the week.
Regarding higher recycling rates at South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse District Councils, it was explained that this was due to glass being collected in the recycling bins and the collection of food waste. The councils had dramatically transformed their recycling collection service and it was felt that this had led to a greater culture shift from residents.
The financial position of Biffa had improved since floating on the stock exchange and their debt was roughly 25% of what it had been three years ago.
Contract Monitoring Team
The committee agreed that a redrafted Environmental Services Service Plan 2017/18 be considered at the January 2018 meeting, which clearly presented concerns and successes and included target dates for the completion of key actions.
It was agreed that a concern raised about the delays in replacing dog waste bins in Alresford with mixed waste bins be investigated and reported back.
In response to a concern regarding repeated requests for weed spraying, it was confirmed that the priority for allocating service requests was being reviewed to ensure that requests were allocated correctly.
Following the discussion it was RESOLVED that:
(i) the content of the review of the sixth year of the contracted services and the comments of the committee be NOTED;
(ii) authority be delegated to the Head of Service to vary contract bin delivery timescales from 5 days to 10 days; and
(iii) a redrafted Environmental Services Service Plan 2017/18 be considered at the 24 January 2018 meeting of the committee.