Tower Hamlets To Bring Waste Services “In-House” [UPDATED]

Tower Hamlets cabinet has agreed a report recommending that an in-house waste collection, recycling and street cleansing service should be created to “improve services for residents” from 1 April 2020.

The council’s existing contract with waste management firm Veolia is due to end at that time.

Tower Hamlets’ population is projected to increase by almost 60,000 in the next decade to 370,000, almost twice as fast as the London average. The number of East End households is likely to increase by another 30,000 by 2028, adding to pressure to improve recycling and reduce waste.

A review of the existing service has formed part of the council’s recent waste strategy consultation, which included residents and key partners joining the Mayor at a waste summit to share their views and debate key waste issues.

“It’s an important decision and one I’m determined we get right for both our residents and the staff involved. I am committed to keeping our streets clean, increasing recycling and making the borough cleaner and greener.”

At the summit, the Mayor set out his ambition to improve the service, have greater flexibility and control around provision and increase recycling. There was also a call for retailers to do more about their use of non-recyclable plastic.

The consultation, ‘Don’t Let Our Future Go to Waste’, launched in July and ran until October and as well as the summit included: telephone interviews with 1,100 people; an online survey that received 683 responses; and four public events on the future of waste services.

Mayor John Biggs said: “This marks the first step in the council’s move towards the delivery of an improved service. It follows on from our recent waste consultation, which generated a huge range of responses from local people and businesses.

“It’s an important decision and one I’m determined we get right for both our residents and the staff involved. I am committed to keeping our streets clean, increasing recycling and making the borough cleaner and greener.”

Cllr David Edgar, Cabinet Member for Environment added: “A growing population means increased demand on our waste service. We considered all the options and concluded that bringing services in-house will deliver a better service to our residents.”

[UPDATED 28 November]

A Veolia spokesperson said: “In the past 10 years, Veolia has been proud to work in partnership with Tower Hamlets to improve recycling rates and provide high-quality services for residents. During this time, we have delivered £3.5m of annualised savings through innovation, flexibility and efficiency whilst absorbing population growth that exceeds anywhere else in London and the UK.

“Our service delivery includes a recycling rate that outperforms neighbouring boroughs, missed collection rates that remain under 0.1% and independently reviewed street cleansing operations delivering above standard results. Given our strong service performance and the successful running of the contract, we find the move to take services in-house disappointing.

“We have been asked to continue working with the council until 2020, and are committed to maintaining the highest possible operational standards as well as assisting in a smooth transition.”


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  1. So, is the Council saying ‘actually Veolia’s service isn’t as good as we could provide by doing it ourselves?’ So why did they contract it out in the first place? Are any of the original Councillors who gave Veolia the work still on the Council?

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