Derbyshire Dales council appoints independent expert to review handling of Serco bin contract

Derbyshire Dales District Council has agreed the terms of an independent review into its contract with Serco following the breakdown in bin collection arrangements this year which left households and businesses sitting on mountains of waste.

By Ed Dingwall
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 2:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th November 2021, 2:54 pm

At a meeting of the community and environment committee on Wednesday, November 17, councillors unanimously agreed on how the roles of both Serco and the council are to be assessed.

The process will be conducted by cross-party group of councillors and Allen Graham, a former chief executive of Rushcliffe Borough Council with experience of leading peer reviews exercises for the Local Government Association (LGA), who will report their findings in January.

Derbyshire Dales chief executive Paul Wilson said: “Allen's role will be to work with the elected members' working group. He will have free rein to explore any particular issues or avenues within the scope of the review or indeed extend the scope of the review should he consider it necessary.”

The bin crisis has sparked outrage across the district for several months, not just for the operational issues, but also for the council’s repeated approval of extra payments to Serco in an attempt to resolve the problem.

The review was sanctioned at a full meeting of the district council last month, under pressure from opposition parties and a residents’ petition.

The working group will consider whether Serco has failed to meet its contractual obligations, using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, in order to establish the root causes of recent service disruption, whether the council’s original contracting procedures and subsequent response has been appropriately handled, and what lessons can be learned.

Councillors on the committee were told that officers had approached the LGA, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Institute of Waste Management to seek an independent review officer.

Derbyshire Dales residents have been left waiting for waste collections for much of this year, despite huge extra payouts to contractor Serco.

A number of potential candidates had been evaluated based on their knowledge, experience, availability and cost, and Mr Allen had been endorsed by the LGA.

The committee approved a further budget of £5,000 for costs related to the review.

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