(Title Image: Bridgend & Porthcawl Gem)
Just when it looked like the recycling situation in Bridgend had reached something approaching normality, it’s likely to be put under the microscope again following news that Kier is looking to sell its services arm (which includes waste collection and processing) following a profits warning.
The BBC reports Kier is looking to lay off 1,200 workers too (across the UK). Although it’s not as bad as Carillion’s collapse in 2018, the news is certainly reminiscent of it.
Bridgend Council actually owns or leases some – but not all – of the physical assets used by Kier to deliver the recycling contract (namely the tips and commercial waste containers). Kier is responsible for the vehicles as well as the workforce.
While there are a number of indemnities within the contract, the news will cause uncertainty for refuse collectors and other Kier staff. It’ll also raise questions about the short-to-medium-term future and viability of the contract, whether the terms and conditions still hold if the contract is picked up by another company (and the implications of that on both Kier and BCBC), how much both parties knew about the finances involved – both prior to the contract being signed-off as well as when Kier took over former operator May Gurney in 2013.
It would probably be a good idea for BCBC and Kier to issue a statement on this as soon as practical.
Of course, BCBC could consider bringing waste collection and recycling back in-house (or via an arm’s length company like Rhondda Cynon Taf), but they’ve been so determined over the last 10+ years to outsource any front-facing public service of worth, I doubt they have the capacity left to do so.