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The waste management service provided by Cheshire CC is good and has promising prospects for improvement, according...
The waste management service provided by Cheshire CC is good and has promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today.

Audit Commission inspectors gave the service two stars* because its aims are clear and challenging and there is a high level of satisfaction with household waste recycling centres. The council is also developing a range of recycling facilities for additional materials at specific sites.

Brian Stevenson, commissioning inspector, said: 'The council's improvement plan for this service addresses the right issues and funds have already been made available for small scale improvements at household waste recycling centres. A number of issues still need to be resolved: ensuring better publicity to promote waste minimisation; securing major long-term financing to implement the waste strategy; and exploring the possibility of jointly commissioning services with district councils.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- The council has made good progress in developing green waste composting, using both centralised and more local on-farm schemes. Its combined composting and recycling rate compares well with other authorities.

- The council produces good promotional literature which is suitable for the audience, and it is well distributed. Good use is made of its website.

- The council leads by example and has good links into schools with dedicated resources to develop waste awareness.

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- The service needs to focus more on customers and on partnerships with district councils. In some cases an overly rigorous approach in working with districts, leads to higher costs.

- Some household waste recycling centres have problems such as congestion at peak times. Site attendants are busy at peak times and are often unable to help customers.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- Consult with local people and ensure the service focuses on making improvements that will bring real benefits for customers. Make sure the public is involved in waste management issues through good publicity and by building on initiatives that have worked well.

- Make sure the service is as cost effective as possible by analysing the reasons for high service costs and taking steps to address this.

- Make sure the service works closely with partners such as the district councils and that overall service aims are shared by all the stakeholders. Look at the possibility of jointly commissioning services to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness.

The waste management service covers:

- household waste disposal

- household waste sites

- abandoned vehicles

- working towards national recycling and composting targets

- environmental management of closed landfill sites

The main contractor is Waste Recycling Group, which disposes of waste at three landfill sites and manages the 16 household waste sites. The budget for the service for 2001/02 is£16.6m.

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