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Labour group criticises decision to continue outsourcing waste collection in Babergh to private company

By Priya Kingsley-Adam

Refuse collection vehicles at Serco depot. Various images for refuse article. Picture: Barry Duffield (6727637)
Refuse collection vehicles at Serco depot. Various images for refuse article. Picture: Barry Duffield (6727637)

Opposition councillors have criticised a council’s decision to continue outsourcing refuse collections to a private company.

Public services provider Serco, which carries out household waste collections on behalf of Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk District Council, has had its contract renewed for a further seven years until 2028.

Both cabinets agreed to renew the contract, which had been due to expire in 2021, during separate meetings last week.

The Labour group at Babergh had urged the district council to manage the service in-house – a position echoed by Sudbury town and district councillor Luke Cresswell, who highlighted the disadvantages of outsourcing the contract.

“Local people lose out from privatisation like this,” he said. “Neighbouring councils in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds – run by each major party – have kept local control.

“That means that any cuts in pay and conditions to the workforce involved are avoided and no money leaves the district as profit margin for the contractor.

“Instead, that profit margin can be invested into improving services.

“Local government should mean local control directly accountable to local people.”

Tina Campbell, cabinet member for environment, stated that, prior to the decision, a thorough appraisal had been conducted.

“All of the options available to the council – including bringing the service back in-house – have been fully considered,” she said.

“We commissioned independent waste specialists Eunomia to look at all possible solutions and the extension to the Serco contract proved to be the best value for taxpayers’ money.

“Bringing the services back in-house would represent a higher risk for the council and would incur higher running costs, as well as further one-off costs to cover setting it up of more than £350,000.

“We have taken the best possible advice to ensure we are doing the right thing for residents and making the best possible use of council money.”


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