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CRN disappointed with Calderdale decision

The Community Recycling Network UK (CRNUK), the national umbrella organisation for community waste management groups, has expressed its disappointment with the break down in negotiations between West-Yorkshire based Calderdale Council and Sita with social enterprise, Kerbside Calderdale.

Kerbsides recycling contract ends with the council on August 1. From August 4, Sita will take over the contract and provide a recycling service to the district.

CRNUK chair Lucy Danger said: Calderdale has a thriving recycling collection scheme, strongly supported by the wider community and which many authorities would envy.

Social enterprise better supports the local economy, retains profit within it and obtains better value for local authority money. Thats one of the reasons why three or four government departments produce guidance on engagement with the third sector.

Kerbside chief executive Paul Brannigan said that the main problems started when the council drew up the waste contract, which asked the incoming waste company to seek to involve the voluntary or community sector in delivering services. He said that this clause did not mention the social benefits that Kerbside provided to its staff, in terms of offering educational and economic opportunities. He added that the environmental waste contract actively pushed them away and held us at arms length by not talking about the social benefits Kerbside brought for the community. He also said that Sita would move the location of their main depot to another site and his staff would lose jobs.

Brannigan said that he had received 150 letters a day of support from the local community of people wanting to maintain the Kerbside service and from August 4, Kerbside will set up a head-to-head recycling service. This will mean that residents would get one recycling box from his firm and one recycling box from Sita and if Sita do not get enough material it will not contribute to the councils recycling figures.

Calderdale Council deputy leader Stephen Baines said that the council was confident that Sita will fulfil its obligations to involve social enterprise in its operation and will work with Sita to ensure that this happens.

Kerbside and Sita were meant to work in partnership to provide a recycling service but negotiations broke down. Sita said the initial negotiations started with how to expand Kerbsides recycling service to cover all 87,000 districts across the district from the current 25,000 properties they serve.

A Sita spokeswoman said that this was to ensure that everybody had a reliable service but we not initially able to reach any agreement. She also said that Sita offered Kerbside to collect bulky waste but they refused.

She added: We are currently looking at options to work with other groups in the voluntary sector.

Danger said she was not surprised that Kerbside did not want to work for Sita and for all its protestations to the contrary, Sita hasnt offered Kerbside a deal any self-respecting community business could accept.

Image: Kerbside staff John Large and Alan Ligocke

Previous story, Calderdale conflict over recycling collections, 28/07/08

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