A much-heralded waste partnership contract, designed to save East Sussex councils £30million over a decade, is set to end, nearly four years early.
The East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership, which included Eastbourne Borough, Hastings Borough, Rother District, Wealden District and East Sussex County councils, signed a ten-year deal with Kier in December 2012, with the firm taking on responsibility for waste collection, recycling and beach cleaning across the county.
But this week the partnership announced it had agreed a ‘mutual exit’ from the contract with Kier, which is now due to end on June 28, 2019.
The partnership said the market for recycled materials has fallen so much since the contract started that it was ‘no longer suitable’.
Julian Tranter, managing director, Kier said: “Kier has been delivering waste, recycling, beach and street cleansing services as part of the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership since 2013, delivering excellent service to circa 200,000 properties in the region. We’re proud of our satisfaction rate of 95 per cent and our investment in local community projects.
“Following significant change in the recycling market Kier and East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership have mutually agreed to end the contract with effect from June 28, 2019. We continue to work closely together to provide a high quality service for residents and stability for our teams during the transition.”
A spokesman for the East Sussex Joint Waste Partnership said: “The four councils save £3m a year through our partnership with Kier, and the average recycling rate across the partnership has increased from 37 per cent to 40 per cent, that’s an extra 1500 tonnes or 130 lorry loads a year.
“Our focus as a partnership remains on the standard of services being provided for residents so we will continue working locally with Kier to achieve the best possible levels of service over the next two years. By the time the contract expires the councils will have saved circa £18m.”
The councils involved will ‘determine the way forward’ in the year ahead.
The contract was rolled out across the county in phases - but it was far from smooth in some areas. Rother District Council received more than 31,000 calls and emails about the disastrous new bin collection scheme in the first month alone - 76 percent of the total number of contacts it received during July 2014.
Kier soon fell behind with collections, leaving bins overflowing and frustrated residents making repeated calls to the council in attempts to get their waste collected.
There were also stories of bins being left overflowing for weeks, with maggots crawling in them and a putrid stench in areas of Wealden and Eastbourne. Kier issued a public apology in August 2013.