Cambridgeshire waste merger has union support

08:20 Friday 17th October 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: There are plans for a shared bin collection service for Cambridge and the surrounding South Cambridgeshire villages. Councillors have been told that annual savings of around £350,000 could be achieved in the next twelve months by sharing services, increasing to around £700,000 within three years. That saving would be shared between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils. Mick Martin is the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services at South Cambridgeshire District Council. Mick, what stage are we at? Has this been decided yet?
MICK MARTIN: No it hasn’t. And I say no it hasn’t hesitatingly. The situation is that South Cambs Cabinet reviewed the proposal yesterday evening and unanimously agreed to move forward with it. But the City Council doesn’t have their review meeting until 5 o’clock this evening.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK. So it’s still in the pipeline at the moment. The main question for anyone living in either of these areas of Cambridgeshire is what is this going to mean for my bin.
MICK MARTIN: Your bin will be as wonderfully cared for as it has been up until now. The two founding principles of the process that we’re going through are first of all to reduce the operational costs, particularly in the area of premises management administration and fleet and equipment costs.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Is it going to mean fewer binmen? Are we going to see job losses?

MICK MARTIN: No we’re not in terms of the operational team. There may well be some losses in the support functions and the management, because clearly if we’re going to have a joint service, we will only need a single management structure to run that.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So there will be some job losses potentially. What do the unions think about it Mick?
MICK MARTIN: The unions are supportive, and one of the reasons why they’re supportive is their strategic concern (which)  is that one way out of these things is to privatise this sort of service. Now if we can come together and make our shared service more efficient and cheaper than a privatised service, then actually the unions see this as a great step forward, and protection for their members.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And how much money do you think this could save you?
MICK MARTIN: Well the challenge is 15% within three years. Now just to put it in perspective, the cost of collecting waste in South Cambs and the city is just over £5 million a year. So 15% of that is without doubt achievable. I would hope that we will get rather more savings than that. And the other thing of course is if we are successful in bringing our two services together, then there is potential to also involve East Cambs, Fenland, Huntingdon, all, any of the local waste collection services who are already part of a group consulting on efficiencies and best ways to deliver an excellent service.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Mick, thanks for coming on today. That’s Cllr Mick Martin, who is the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services at South Cambridgeshire District Council.