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.
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.
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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