Leadership blog - 19 January 2024

Cllr Meg Davidson talks about waste, a topic that affects us all and is a key part of her portfolio.

Cllr Meg Davidson, a white woman with shoulder length light brown hair, she is sitting in a chair and smiling at the camera.

The council is preparing to move towards alternate weekly waste collections from autumn 2025. This was a difficult decision that we took as cabinet in October last year.

The financial challenges we face gave us no choice but to accept we must make this change as part of the Council's new waste contract. Maintaining the current service would cost us an extra £10m over the next 8 years, and with an estimated budget gap of £35m over the next four years, we simply cannot afford this. The change will be difficult, but I do hope the new approach will increase recycling rates and improve the environment and street scene too.

The key change, which will be planned and managed, involves switching from plastic sacks to wheeled bins for most households, while retaining the weekly food waste collection. The ongoing procurement process to award the waste management contract underscores our commitment to select a service provider aligned with our financial and environmental goals. Alongside this, we are actively developing criteria to determine which households will receive wheeled bins as part of the new service. This approach acknowledges that a one-size-fits-all solution will not be appropriate for all, considering the diverse nature of properties across Southend.

The draft policy and criteria being developed, and to be discussed by the Place Scrutiny Committee next week, also incorporates an appeals process, ensuring that residents will have an avenue to voice their concerns and seek alternative solutions. It reflects a commitment to inclusivity and recognises that flexibility is essential when implementing significant changes that impact the daily lives of residents.

It's worth noting that while most households will switch to wheeled bins subject to the criteria, flats that have communal bins will maintain their weekly schedule for disposal or as demand requires. I am also aware that care homes were raised in the press as a concern. Care homes operate as businesses and should therefore have their own commercial waste arrangements. This approach recognises that whilst there will be change, some things will need to remain consistent too.

Finally, it is worth saying that the new contract, which is still to be awarded, will be in place from 1st April 2025, with the new service required to be in place by October 2025. There will be much more communication, engagement and, I am sure, healthy public debate before then.

Cllr Meg Davidson,
Cabinet member for environment and deputy leader of the council

Published: 19th January 2024

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