Proposals to form a new joint waste partnership in East Sussex have been backed by Hastings councillors this week.
The new arrangement is expected to see the cost of bin collections shared – between Rother District Council, Wealden District Council and Hastings Borough Council – when the current contract with Kier come to an early end next June.
The terms of the deal gained the unanimous backing of Hastings councillors at a meeting on Wednesday (December 19).
Council leader Peter Chowney said: “This is the biggest thing we do. It is the same for all district councils throughout the country.
“This is a lot of money. Sitting around here now, this is the biggest decision, in money-terms, we will make for years.
“It is a pity actually we can’t be more transparent about it and discuss the differences between contractors. But we are not allowed to do that.
“That all has to be done, for commercial reasons, in private, mostly by officers.”
Cllr Chowney added that details would become clear ‘in due course’.
While details of the proposed contract remain confidential at this stage, it is understood the new contract is to cost each council more than the current partnership deal.
This was confirmed earlier this week when Rother District Council considered its draft budget proposals. In those proposals, £1.5m was set aside for the contract.
The contract cost to Hastings is likely to be less, however, mainly due to its decision to set up its own in-house street cleansing service.
Councillors also confirmed the new arrangements will see a change to how glass is recycled within the contract area.
Under the new arrangements residents will no longer be asked to separate glass from other recycling waste before collection.
These plans were welcomed by Conservative councillor Andy Patmore (Maze Hill). He said: “Recycling is hopefully going to be done in a much better way than it is now. I think the public are very confused in the way Kier take recycling.
“We separate all our glass out into bins, only to see the bin men throw glass items into the green bins. It is totally confusing.”
Councillors also discussed the possibility of adding a separate food waste collection to the contract at a later date. However concerns were raised over the cost and effectiveness of the additional service.
Hastings Borough Council was the final member of the partnership to agree to the terms of the deal.
As a result, the contract is now in a regulatory standstill period, allowing the companies involved in the procurement process to scrutinise and challenge the outcome of negotiations.
Following this period, the councils are expected to reveal the new contractor in early January 2019.
If all goes smoothly, the new contractor is expected to take over from Kier Environmental Services Ltd on July 1.