WASTE CONTRACT COLLAPSE “INEVITABLE”, SAYS MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described the decision by waste firm Renewi to pull out of its waste management contract with Dumfries and Galloway Council as “inevitable” and urged the Scottish Government to review all such public private partnership contracts with a view to bringing them back in-house under council or Government control.

Renewi has said it had been unable to meet legal changes on new landfill diversion and recycling requirements set by the Scottish Government and they hope to end the contract with the council in the summer. The move follows months of negotiations with Dumfries and Galloway Council to amend the contract to take account of the law changes.

Commenting on the move South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said “The decision by Renewi to withdraw from the contract was inevitable when the Scottish Government changed the rules around recycling and I welcome the fact that we may now see this service return to be run by the council not the private sector. The contract has never made a profit for the private companies involved and I am just surprised they have taken so long to try to ditch it”.

“What angers me is that these law changes, no matter how ill-thought out they were by the Scottish Government, are not new. The companies involved in the contract have been in negotiations with the council for literally years over amendments to the contract to take account of the law-changes and this will have been at massive cost to them and the council in legal fees. Despite this, the company have waited until now to try to pull out of the contract. It’s pretty clear to me that they have tried to amend what was a loss making contract into one where they can make in a big profit and when they failed to achieve that, they now want to walk away.”

“What is now important is that the council secure a guarantee from Renewi that services to the public will continue as normal until the full withdrawal is negotiated. The Council should also work to bring this service back in-house and avoid any other agreement with any other private sector company to deliver this service. It is also vital that it is Renewi not the council tax payer that picks up the bill to make changes that will now be required to bring services in-house. The council should also work to bring staff employed on the contract by Renewi into the council employment to deliver these services. If would be an utter travesty if anyone lost their jobs locally as a result of the utter failure of Renewi to deliver this contract”.

“This whole sorry saga shows that these services are better delivered in-house rather than by the private sector whose only interest is making a profit. The Scottish Government should now review all such contracts to find a way to bring them back in-house into the public sector where we aren't being held at the mercy of big business profiteers.”

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