Shropshire Council moves to alter 'nightmare' 27-year Veolia waste deal

Shropshire Council bosses are attempting to renegotiate their "nightmare" 27-year contract with waste giant Veolia, it has been revealed.

An artist’s impression of how the incinerator at Battlefield in Shrewsbury will look when it is completed
An artist’s impression of how the incinerator at Battlefield in Shrewsbury will look when it is completed

Council chiefs want to alter elements of the ongoing contract, which was signed in 2007. The terms of the deal mean the total being spent on waste management by the council is increasing each year.

In April this year, it was revealed the amount being paid to Veolia was going up by £548,000 to £25.8 million, up from £25.3 million in 2012/13.

Council leader Keith Barrow said it was hoped alterations could be made to the existing contract to provide a better deal for taxpayers.

Veolia collects domestic waste across the county and runs the area's recycling centres under the terms of the contract. The deal also included the building of the £60 million incinerator at Battlefield in Shrewsbury.

Councillor Barrow said: "The contract we have with Veolia, there are increases and expenses associated with that each year. I personally wouldn't have signed the contract we have ended up with."

The contract was signed by the former Shropshire Waste Partnership, which at the time was chaired by Councillor Barrow's wife Joyce.

But at a meeting in Shrewsbury on Friday he said that despite controversy about the contract, he gets "virtually no complaints" about the service Veolia provide.

Alan James, branch secretary of Shropshire Unison, said he hoped the contract could be changed.

"We should be going back and saying we need to renegotiate this with you."

Councillor Barrow said: "That is exactly what we are doing. We are already having these conversations and we will do that with every other contract we have as well. The Veolia contract has caused me a nightmare.

"When we stopped collecting cardboard, I said 'Wouldn't it be a good idea to stop collecting garden waste in the winter and collect cardboard?'

"They said it would cost £169,000 because it is a variant on the contract we have got. Once you are tied into the contract, you are contracted to do certain things."

Chief executive Clive Wright said future council contracts would not be based on the same model as the Veolia deal.

"What we need today is not what we need in 25 years' time. We have learned that lesson," he said.

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