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Dorset Waste Partnership looks to six-month turnaround

The Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) management board has accepted a series of 37 recommendations made in the wake of a £2.8m budget overspend.

A meeting of the DWP Joint Committee agreed to appoint a team from consultancy WYG for a six-month period to support the management team while it implemented an action plan.

Nigel Mattravers

Nigel Mattravers, left, WYG’s director of waste and resource managment, will lead the team.

Steve Mackenzie, chief executive of Purbeck District Council, has taken overall responsibility for ensuring the action plan is delivered. 

Actions include stricter budget monitoring, establishing clear lines of responsibility and greater board scrutiny. The cost of implementing the recommendations is to be met from a £300,000 reserve.

DWP director Steve Burdis was suspended earlier this month pending an investigation by Dorset County Council into the way the body has been managed.

Concerns were raised last year about the overspend, which included more than £1m for hire vehicles associated with the roll-out of improved recycling services.

It is also alleged the DWP hired vehicles without a proper tendering process to the value of £1.5m, and there were issues in relation to insurance.

Three independent reviews into the service have been published, by WYG, South West Audit Partnership and Local Partnerships. WYG said “total naivety” had led to the financial problems.

The committee considered the recommendations outlined in the reviews and accepted many of the criticisms.

Dorset County Council’s monitoring officer, Jonathan Mair, told the committee that the DWP awarded contracts for vehicle hire and consultancy without a lawful tendering process. Details of vehicle insurance were also not sent to the national database, as required by the law. The unlawful activity ceased after “urgent action” was taken.

DWP chairman Mike Harries said the reviews raised “significant concerns around the efficiency and effectiveness of the partnership”.

DWP Joint Committee chairman Tony Alford said: “I welcome the findings of the reviews and the action plan, which councillors will closely monitor to make sure the situation is turned around quickly.

“Partner councils are clear that the failings highlighted by the reviews are unacceptable. Together, we are committed to putting this right and providing an efficient, business-like waste and recycling service to our residents. 

“We must also recognise that the DWP has successfully met many of its aims, including increasing recycling and reducing landfill, and that the majority of residents also say they are happy with their service.”

Some of the recommendations accepted by the DWP board:

“Detailed, timely and accurate budget monitoring reports for the entirety of the service should be provided monthly to budget holders.”

“Budget holders should ensure that they receive the appropriate training and support to be able to manage their budgets effectively.”

“Where a service makes assumptions about the net impact of changes (for example, buying to hiring), these assumptions must be tested and agreed by finance and the service before they are relied upon to set a budget or seek approval for a service change.”

“Board and committee members should provide sufficient scrutiny and challenge to senior officers in order to ensure the robustness of financial and management information on which service decisions are made.”

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