Council withholds £1m from Veolia for bin service failings

Croydon Council has withheld nearly £1million in fees due to street-cleaning and bin-collecting contractors Veolia because of poor performance, Inside Croydon has learned.

Veolia are now locked in to the bin collection and street cleaning services in Croydon until 2025

The penalty has been applied by Croydon’s clean and green cabinet member, Stuart Collins, because of various shortcomings by Veolia, including missed bin collections and unswept streets.

The massive amount of withheld payments emerged this week during a regular meeting of the South London Waste Partnership, of which Collins is deputy chair.

Croydon is one of four boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership, along with Kingston, Merton and Sutton. 

Collins’s revelation has prompted opposition Conservative and independent councillors in neighbouring Sutton – which has had to endure #SuttonBinShame since handing over their borough’s bin collections to Veolia in April 2017 – to demand of their LibDem administration why similar amounts have not been deducted from their payments to the same contractors.

All four SLWP boroughs are moving to new contracts with Veolia which are supposed to last for 25 years, but which are quickly being exposed as having serious short-comings in standards of delivery and monitoring of performance.

With Croydon due to move to a new system of bin collections and new wheelie bins in September, there’s growing apprehension that #SuttonBinShame is about to be followed by… #CroydonBinChaos.

Sources at the SLWP suggest that Croydon’s decision to withhold a seven-figure sum follows detailed monitoring of Veolia’s work by elected councillors.

Remarkably, Croydon Council still does not have any dedicated officials whose job it is to check that Veolia carry out the work they are supposed to perform.

“It’s a common factor in the dealings across all four boroughs,” a Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon. “Basically, Veolia are allowed to mark their own homework.

“But in Croydon, they’ve been badly caught out.”

Veolia has provided refuse collection and road-sweeping services in Croydon since 2003; since 2012, what was a weekly bin collection service was reduced to fortnightly, something which, under the new SLWP deal, has also been imposed in Sutton and Merton.

Stuart Collins: keeping a check on Veolia’s work

One of the notable changes since March this year in terms in Croydon’s revised deal with Veolia, there is to be no more than 30 missed bin collections per 100,000 properties. “This contract is important because it sets tougher targets for our contractor to stick to, and I look forward to them delivering a much-improved service across the borough,” Collins said when the £38million deal was finalised last December.

Veolia are known to have had problems in collecting recycling since the disruption caused by the snows in February. It is also suggested that their teams are under-staffed, and therefore over-stretched to deliver the service that they are contracted to provide.

Collins, meanwhile, remains concerned at the number of staff Veolia recently made redundant from their Croydon teams, as they opted instead for much-trumpeted mechanisation of some street-cleaning services as part of a £9million investment, replacing the old-school bloke with a broom.

And there are growing reservations over the length of the term of the four-borough contract, with the councils unable to terminate it for at least eight years – around 2025. Even Westfield’s Croydon supermall might be built by then…

Collins did not respond to Inside Croydon’s request for comment.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to Council withholds £1m from Veolia for bin service failings

  1. David Mogoh says:

    Expect absolute chaos in September, in particular in the northern part of the borough when those multiple occupancy properties have their 3 x overflowing 240 litre wheelie bins replaced with 1 x 180 litre wheelie bin. It won’t be pleasant.

  2. Trevor Evans says:

    Uproar in the South too. For Purley the council are proposing households have two 240 litre bins for recycling and a 180 litre bin for general waste. The streetscape is going to be absolutely screwed by a bin infestation.

    Supposedly there was a survey that determined which properties in the borough had the space for lots of shiny new bins. But people living in terrace houses with a small yard at the front have been told they’re having them, and people with steep frontage with lots of steps have too.

    Message to the council: We managed to recycle fine with boxes ‘Thank -You –Very- Much’. Boxes that are easier to handle and store away. Boxes that for paper recycling are not always filled because lack of junk mail, daily papers mean the amount of this type of waste has been falling in recent years. But Croydon in its wisdom/stupidity thinks to replace the box with a bin about seven times the size.

    The council claim this change is going to save £5 million a year this is despite, according to the leaflet, some households going on to a weekly collection. I’ve got no idea the logistics of this, but you’d think that must entail a lot more refuse miles each month. Are some households in the same area going to have a higher frequency of collections? Or is just the South of the borough going to get a lower level of service out of vindictiveness?

    Croydon should bluntly tell Veolia to ‘foutre le camp’. Surveys show that single-stream recycling operated by Virdor is more efficient entailing fewer refuse journeys and fewer damned bins

  3. veeanne2015 says:

    THREE Wheelie Bins ?
    Save £5 million ? Has insanity set in ?

    Our Blue boxes, generally two-thirds full, are tipped into the Refuse Collector’s large wheelie bin, doing the same with our neighbours’ boxes, and taken down the road until either their wheelie bins are full, or until there’s a space large enough between parked cars to take them to the recycling van for emptying.
    Under the new scheme how would the refuse collector take our comparably small amount of paper and cardboard ? Reach into our bin and take it out handful by handful ?
    Tip up our wheelie bin into his ? Take our bin along the road till there’s room between parked cars, and wait while the bin is mechanically emptied, then take it back to our house ?
    Any of these will take far longer for the refuse collectors, (has anyone asked THEIR opinion ?), and emptying so many small amounts will hold up the vans, using more petrol, and blocking the roads for longer, causing more traffic pollution !
    And the same would apply to replacement wheelie bins for the glass and tins !

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