Controversial company wins council’s Brent Council’s public realm contract

Cllr Roxanne Mashari

Cllr Roxanne Mashari - Credit: Archant

A controversial company has won its bid for Brent Council’s entire public realm contract, worth £142 million.

Veolia ES (UK) was the sole contender for the nine year contract, which has an optional extension of seven years, after Enterprise Managed Services Ltd withdrew from the two-year procurement process.

The private company was already responsible for the borough’s recycling and street cleaning but the renewed contract, effective from April, will see the company take on winter gritting, refuse collection, grounds maintenance in parks, grave digging and commercial waste collection.

The council claims its £17.4m annual spend on public realm services will be slashed by £1.3m in 2014 and £1.7m annually thereafter – resulting in a £14.9m saving over nine years.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, welcomed the announcement, made at the council’s executive meeting on Monday.

“It’s good news for the residents as they will be saving quite a lot of money.” she said.

“Veolia now takes the (financial) risk for not reducing landfill, not the council.

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“That’s quite significant, because £7m of the waste budget was spent on disposing residual waste.

“The taxpayer will not foot the bill any more.”

Brent Council has pledged to put customer service at the heart of the new contract and will be fining Veolia for any lapses.

Cllr Mashari said: “For every percentage point drop in customer satisfaction there will be a financial penalty for Veolia which could be a maximum of £20k per percentage point.”

Cllr Mashari said plans are afoot to extend food recycling across the borough and a weekly recycling service for flats above shops will be introduced.

A new commercial waste collection will also be launched with enforcement action, including fines, for businesses that carry on dumping waste on the streets.

Despite the predicted savings to the taxpayer, members of Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Group oppose Veolia’s operations of human rights grounds.

Campaigners opposed Veolia’s bid because of its alleged ‘grave misconduct’ in providing the infrastructure to support illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Martin Francis, who chairs the group, said the procurement process for the contract should be carried out again.

A Veolia spokesman said its operations in Israel are legal.

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