East Northamptonshire Council is set to spend a tidy £3m to buy a fleet of waste lorries.
Its seven-year contract with national contractor Kier is due to come to an end this summer and it appears the contract will then be taken in-house.
Discussions on the contract have been held behind closed doors and the local authority is refusing to give any more details about how the contract will run and what impact it will have on current waste management staff.
The authority has set aside £3m from its earmarked reserves to buy a fleet of new vehicles. The actual cost of the proposed deal is not known.
Councillor for the Rushden and Spencer ward Dorothy Maxwell said: “My concerns would be that like cars, these lorries will depreciate in value and at some point they will have to be replaced.
“Is this cost effective? Would it be more cost effective to hire them? Given the fact that we could end up as a unitary authority is this something that should be being done?”
Cllr Maxwell said only a small circle of councillors had been privvy to the information about the contract.
A list of questions put to the council by Local Democracy Reporter Sarah Ward have not been answered, as the authority’s media office said: “We are still in the contract procurement process so this information is classed as commercially sensitive.”
Kier has looked after waste services in the area since 2011. The current contract includes refuse and recycling collections to all households in East Northants as well as the collection of food waste and garden waste. Street cleansing services are also included in the contract.
The authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy, which was put before the budget council meeting on February 26, stated: “There is a pressure from 2018/19 onwards due to the renewal of the waste contract, which is currently out to procurement, as well as changes to waste regulations. This has resulted in significantly increasing the costs for waste within the Medium Term Financial Strategy whilst options are evaluated.”
The change could possibly see staff become employees of the council.
The move follows Kettering Council planning to buy a vehicles fleet. It will then share waste collection services with Corby Council.