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Letter of the week - 15 December 2011

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Sandwell could be a victim of its success.

LGC will donate £20 to the Lewis Jeynes Fund or to a charity of the letter writer’s choice.

I am disappointed at your reports about the lack of council interest in the secretary of state’s scheme for weekly bin collections. In Sandwell, we have the opposite concern because 12 months ago we entered into a long-term contract with Serco for all the council’s waste collection, recycling, disposal and cleansing services.

Through this contract, the council will maintain existing weekly collections for residual waste, introduce new weekly collections for recyclable waste and compostable food waste, and maintain free fortnightly garden waste collections. These are the collection cycles our residents asked for when we consulted them before letting the contract.

In the current financial year, these new collection arrangements should see Sandwell reach a combined recycling/composting rate in excess of 40%.  We have performance guarantees from Serco that this figure will increase to 60% by 2015 and by 2020 we plan to send less than 5% of waste to landfill.

The contract also includes a community fund to reward communities for recycling and innovative arrangements to reduce carbon and NOx emissions. In short, we have done everything that the secretary of state requires: listened to residents, committed to weekly collections, innovated, worked with and transferred performance risk to a private sector partner - and the first 12 months of the contract have gone very well.

And, because we have already done these things and committed them to contract, it seems we may not be eligible for the new funding because there is little extra we can offer in terms of performance or value for money to meet the Treasury’s expectation that there will be an additional return on the investment.

Officers from DCLG will shortly be visiting Sandwell - we plan to ensure there are plenty of facts for them to find on this subject.

Jan Britton, chief executive, Sandwell MBC

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