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Textile plan attracts low council response

Lewisham Council has been selected to spearhead a controversial London-wide contract for the sale of textiles collected from bring banks. But only half the number of boroughs originally lining up for the scheme will take part, MRW has learned.

The plans, which would create a single contract for the sale of textiles collected from bring-banks on local authority owned sites across the capital, have sparked a row with charities which say the plans will harm their businesses and lead to job losses.

The appointment of Lewisham to oversee the procurement process follows talks between London Councils, the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and the Charity Retailers Association.

However, although 16 boroughs were part of initial discussions for the “London-wide” plan last November, only seven or eight boroughs are likely to be part of the final consortium, which is currently being finalised.

Waltham Forest is one borough that will not be part of the scheme. The council’s environment portfolio holder, and LWARB member, Clyde Loakes, said that the council wanted to stick with its current arrangements.

“We’ve been very clear that we’ll continue with the charities,” he said. “There’s a very delicate ecosystem that many local authorities have with charities and I imagine that some like us don’t want to upset that.”

“Some will want to gain the benefits of working together and take it forward but some have good relationships with charities and are very happy with the way it operates.”

Textiles Recycling Association president Ross Barry said that textile collection had a strong perceived link to charities: “Local authorities have to tick that third sector box, and how do you choose which charities to keep working with?” he said.

He added: “But I think there will be scope for all parties to benefit.”

Discussions on the plans are ongoing and LWARB has said that it will encourage charities to tender for the contract. It also said that despite the contract, authorities would still involve charities with textile recycling.

Councils are hoping to gain increased income and efficiency savings through shared services from the strategy.

Waste minister Lord Taylor has urged local authorities and charities to work together to find the best solutions for to cut the 350,000 tonnes of textiles that are sent to landfill.

Readers' comments (2)

  • In the current climate, it is unrealistic to expect Local Authorities to gear their services specifically around benefitting charities. Our priorities should be providing reliable and value for money services to residents. Where partnerships are formed between Local Authorities and the third sector or charities, these should be to the benefit of the local community and local residents.

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  • Planet Aid Mission and Humana People to People did well on clothes recycling.

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