Portsmouth City Council will take over bin collections from Biffa in 2024

BIN collections in Portsmouth will be carried out by staff directly employed by the city council after its cabinet agreed to bring the service back in-house.

By Josh Wright
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 9:51 pm

At Tuesday's meeting councillors agreed unanimously to the council taking over the service when the contract with Biffa ends after 13 years in March 2024.

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'This has been a priority for us for a long time,' councillor Kimberly Barrett, the cabinet member for environment said. 'There are some really great benefits to this.

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Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for community safety & environment, filling up a Biffa bin lorry with HVO fuel with Biffa supervisor Michael Hobbs in the driver seat.

'We have brought a number of council services back in-house recently and they have all been working exceptionally well. It allows us to better monitor the service and to make significant changes very quickly.

'It's the ideal way forward.'

Financial details of the arrangement have not been made public but the existing Biffa contract was worth more than £30m for the eight years it was originally due to run.

This has been extended twice in recent years and a further six-month extension will be used to take it into early 2024, allowing time for the council to prepare to take it over.

Labour councillor Asghar Shah welcomed the proposal saying local authority control gave services 'maximum flexibility', was better for employees and was also better value financially.

'We strongly believe that public services are best delivered directly by councils and other public sector organisations instead of being outsourced to for-profit providers,' he said.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the cabinet would take 'a pragmatic approach' to deciding when services should be brought in-house.

'Our view is that we need to look at each individual issue and trying to make a decision based on what's best for people in the city,' he said. 'Labour's approach is very ideological - we're not wild outsourcers nor are we wild insourcers.'

A cabinet report said the arrangement for waste collections had been 'mainly positive' and that the difference between the two choices was 'finely balanced', however but said the Lib Dem administration 'had made it clear' that it wished to operate the service itself.

Cllr Barrett said employment of the workforce by the council would mean staff members receive better pay and benefits.

The decision comes less than a year after the Environment Act came into law, introducing nationwide standards for household recycling and weekly food waste collections. It is thought that it may also require councils to collect garden waste free.

The city council said it expected extra funding it to be provided by the government to cover the cost of the extra services it will need to run but details of this have yet to be confirmed.