Private operator to take over Cork city refuse collection

 

CORK CITY Council has agreed to sell its refuse collection service to a private operator following a review of operations which found that the number of customers is dropping and the service is projected to lose almost €5 million in 2012.

Cork city manager Tim Lucey last night presented a report on the service to councillors. He said he had reached agreement with Country Clean Recycling to take over the council’s service to 25,301 customers.

Mr Lucey did not reveal the terms of the agreement or what Country Clean is paying for the service but it is understood that more details will be made available after Country Clean takes over the service on August 15th.

Mr Lucey said the council had budgeted that the service would lose almost €1.8 million this year but that the projected loss would now be almost €2.5 million, with the loss for 2012 projected at over €4.8 million.

Mr Lucey said the dramatic increase in losses for 2012 related to the fact that the council must introduce a third bin for biodegradables in line with an EU directive, which would result in costs rising by over €1 million from €7.4 million to a projected €8.5 million.

The review also found the overall numbers using the city council refuse collection service has dropped from 35,000 in 2006 to 25,000 in 2011 and, while the numbers availing of waivers have remained constant at about 12,000, the number of paying customers has almost halved.

Cork City Council has about 12,880 people, including pensioners and social welfare recipients, availing of either full or partial waivers. Under the agreement with Country Clean, these waivers will continue until April 2012.

Mr Lucey said the waste collection market in Cork had become increasingly competitive. Already this year, the council had lost 2,000 customers and would need to increase next year’s charges by 50 per cent to contain losses at 2011 levels and that would make it uncompetitive.

Twenty-one people work for Cork City Council in refuse collection and there will be no redundancies, with staff being given the opportunity to be redeployed within other sections of the council if they do not wish to transfer to Country Clean.

Country Clean is based in Mallow, north Cork, and employs 120 staff.

Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry said the move amounted to an abandonment by the council of the poor and disadvantaged.