South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has re-iterated his call for the Scottish Government to review all PFI contracts following the announcement by Dumfries and Galloway Council that an early termination to the problematic Waste PFI Contract has been agreed with private companies Shanks Dumfries and Galloway Ltd and Renewi UK Services Ltd.
Colin Smyth had previously said that it was “inevitable” that the Waste Contract would collapse after waste firm, Renewi, said it would pull out of the contract and called for the contract to be brought back in-house to the council
Dumfries and Galloway Council have announced that the contract will be brought under Council control. The Council retained control of household waste collection but will now also have control of waste treatment, recycling and waste disposal.
Colin Smyth has called for the Scottish Government to review similar PFI contracts to ensure they are also brought back in-house.
Colin Smyth said, “Having called for this contract to be brought back in-house, I welcome the fact that all services in relation to waste will now be carried out fully under public control. The contract has never made a profit and quite frankly it is ridiculous that private companies were trying to profiteer from local waste disposal services. The rigidness of PFI contracts made it impossible for the council to amend the contract when the Scottish Government changed the rules around recycling.
The same private companies that were trying to profiteer from the contract, were the same companies that threatened the continuation of services required by local residents. The threat to waste disposal services here in Dumfries and Galloway by Renewi could have led to an increase in fly tipping and contingency plans put in place by the Council that would have cost an eye watering amount of money.
The whole sorry saga of the waste contract here in Dumfries and Galloway shows that waste services are better delivered in house, rather than by the private sector only interested in 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.”
However, Colin Smyth has also called on the Government to confirm whether it will pass on the Central Government funding to the Council for the waste services provision. The UK and Scottish Governments currently provide Level Playing Field Support and Strategic Waste Fund Support which amounts to over £4million a year to the council and it is unclear whether this will continue now the contract will come in-house.
Colin Smyth said, “Now that the waste contract will be brought back under public control it will allow for local accountability as Councillors will have the complete say over local services. However, the big concern is the fact the UK and Scottish Governments provide funding directly for the PFI contract. It is vital that this financial support continues because there will clearly be a significant cost to the council of now running the service direct. The SNP have said they support ending PFI contracts in the past but if they stop this funding, those claims will be empty. It will mean that local taxpayers will have to make up any shortfall in deliver waste services which is just not acceptable.”