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Spend money on service not review, says former Birmingham bin boss

A former Birmingham City Council cabinet member for waste and recycling, who dealt with the long-running bin strike, has failed in his bid to block a review into waste services.

Labour’s Majid Mahmood said the review could cost up to £300,000 and would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. Mahmood reported his concerns to the council’s co-ordinating overview and scrutiny committee on 12 April.

He said some of the money should have been spent on upgrading the council’s ageing bin lorry fleet, claiming that two-thirds were was not fit for purpose because they were bought after 2013.

He said the main reason the city’s collection service was failing was due to the ”decrepit” fleet, and warned that the review paved the way for the council to outsource the service. A report to the council’s cabinet has already said the waste service could be handed to another operator.

Mahmood, who resigned in January after the council decided to take legal action over striking bin workers, was also critical of a £6m agreement made between the council and Unite the Union that ended the bin strikes. He said they were “crippling the service”.

“The reason this review doesn’t need to take place, and the main reason the service is failing, is because of the vehicles – the lack of vehicles and the condition of vehicles we are currently using.”

Mahmood also questioned whether the agreement reached between Unite and the council was under review. But his replacement Brett O’Reilly denied this.

Council leader Ian Ward said the vehicle fleet would be upgraded gradually with £11.8m, adding that it “wasn’t sensible” to replace it all at once because it would need to be done again in a few years. The cost to replace the entire fleet was estimated at £70m.

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