It’s looking like Croydon’s Council Tax-payers are paying over the odds – again – for a set of rubbish bins, showing once more that the borough’s procurement practices don’t seem to work very well for the borough.
Stuart Collins, the Labour council’s cabinet member “for clean and green Croydon”, announced in November a trial of eight “Big Belly” bins, which are solar-powered, using the energy generated to compact the rubbish inside them to improve their waste capacity, and which even send an email the contractors when they are full.
Inside Croydon understands that the council is considering using more than 30 of the bins across the borough, and that Collins has been told by council officials that the bins cost £5,000 each to buy.
Of course, by leasing the equipment, the council won’t be paying the full purchase price, although the rental agreement will reflect the value of the kit.
But Inside Croydon has found that in the United States, where the Big Belly bins have been in use for several years, the bins are being sold for around $3,800 – which even with the pound sterling tumbling post-Brexit, is still nearly 2,000 quid per bin cheaper than Collins has been told by his officials that they cost.
“These bigger solar-powered bins allow our council contractors to do even more litter-picking and street-sweeping in the places needing it most, and I look forward to seeing the trial results in January,” Collins said six weeks ago, not long after he had been party to extending street cleaners Veolia’s contract in Croydon for another eight years and across three other south London boroughs in a deal worth £38million.
Other Katherine Street figures remain unconvinced by the solar bins.
“Emptying rubbish bins ain’t rocket science,” said our source.
“It’s just another gimmick to take the public’s attention away from the fundamental problem, that Veolia are not emptying the borough’s street bins regularly or frequently enough.
“And that’s down to the money-saving contract which was negotiated by Phil Thomas and the Tories on the council five years ago, and which, with the latest set of funding cuts imposed on the council, is not going to improve any time soon.
“The solar-powered bins are a nice idea, but let’s face it, they are a classic example of over-engineering. Veolia know where the bins are, they have a trucks doing the rounds to empty them.
“But clearly, that’s just not happening frequently enough, even under the terms negotiated by the Tories. Goodness knows how ‘regularly’ bins will be emptied if Veolia have the excuse that they are waiting to get an email from a few dozen of the bins.”
For the initial trial period, which the bin manufacturers may see as an opportunity to persuade Croydon to take their solar-powered bins on longer term leases or even to pruchase, the bins have been placed between East Croydon Station and the junction with Wellesley Road. Further bins will be placed on the High Street this month for a similar trial period.
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