Rother councillors have given their backing to proposals to form a new joint waste partnership in East Sussex.
The new partnership is expected to see the cost of waste collection services shared between Rother District Council, Wealden District Council and Hastings Borough Council, when the current arrangements come to an early end next June.
The terms of the deal gained the backing of Rother councillors at a meeting on Monday (December 17), after being recommended by the council’s cabinet earlier this month.
While details of the proposed contract remain confidential at this stage, it is understood the new contract is to cost each council more than the current partnership deal.
This point saw concerns raised by Association of Independents councillor Charles Clark, who said: “It is an expensive contract to deliver. I think it is something like 30,000 bins for collection and we see an increase in costs.
“What worries me is how the council is going to find the money that it needs to put in to this contract.
“Does that mean residents will have to pay more in the garden waste collection charge?
“It is frozen up until May next year I think, but I have a feeling that the policy may be to put on a substantial increase in charging for garden waste collection to finance the cost of the contract.”
In response, the council’s portfolio holder for waste and recycling said there were no current plans to increase the charge, but it was likely to go up in future as the council was only just covering its costs.
Cllr Ganly said: “There is no doubt about it that we will have to find the money from somewhere.
“Currently there are no plans to increase the garden waste collection charge, however I think it is unlikely we will go through the next four years without an increase to that charge.”
During the meeting some councillors raised concerns about the lack of public information on the contract.
However, this criticism was dismissed by the council’s Conservative cabinet, who argued that members have had opportunities to access the information at previous meetings, some of which was confidential.
Eventually, councillors voted in favour of adopting the proposed arrangements.
As a result, Rother became the second council to give the deal its backing, with Wealden District Council’s cabinet giving its approval last week.
Hastings Borough Council, the final member of the partnership, is set to meet later this week, where its members will make a decision.
If approved, the contract agreement will enter a regulatory standstill period over Christmas.
This allows the companies that have been involved in the procurement to scrutinise and challenge the outcome of negotiations.
Following this period, the councils are expected to reveal the new contractor in early January 2019.
If all goes smoothly, the new contractor is expected to take over from Kier Environmental Services Ltd on July 1.