Spanish firm set to scoop £42million street cleaning contract for Waltham Forest

First published in Waltham Forest East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

A Spanish multinational looks set to be awarded a new contract worth more than £42million to clean Waltham Forest's streets for at least the next six years.
 

It comes after Waltham Forest Council announced last year that it would not be renewing its deal with Kier, which had been criticised by residents over its performance.
 

After a tendering process the authority has announced Urbaser SA is its preferred bidder for the new contract, and its cabinet is expected to rubber stamp the decision at a meeting on Tuesday.


The firm will be paid £6.7million annually for six years and four months, with the option of renewing the contract for a further two years after that.


Kier's contract, which began in June 2008, is due to expire in June this year, when Urbaser SA would then take over.


The council says it sent out tender contracts to five companies and received three bids in return.


One of those rumoured to be in the running was controversial French firm Veolia, which has been criticised for its links with Israeli projects in the occupied territories. It denies any wrongdoing.


However Cllr Clyde Loakes, the cabinet member responsible, reportedly let slip to campaigners later last year that the firm was no longer in contention.
 

Urbaser SA, which is based in Madrid, describes itself as an environmental services company with expertise in street cleaning and waste management.

 

 

Comments (18)

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3:10pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

Fantastic news, the Spanish now how to keep their streets clean and as long as it is not 'mañana' when we ask for bins to be collected it must be better than Kerr?
Fantastic news, the Spanish now how to keep their streets clean and as long as it is not 'mañana' when we ask for bins to be collected it must be better than Kerr? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

3:32pm Fri 8 Feb 13

the dame says...

Have you not seen the recent pictures of rubbish piled up in Barcelona as street cleaners are protesting at the budget cuts. Why do we not offer work to tried and trusted British companies?
Have you not seen the recent pictures of rubbish piled up in Barcelona as street cleaners are protesting at the budget cuts. Why do we not offer work to tried and trusted British companies? the dame
  • Score: 0

3:34pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Cornbeefur says...

the dame wrote:
Have you not seen the recent pictures of rubbish piled up in Barcelona as street cleaners are protesting at the budget cuts. Why do we not offer work to tried and trusted British companies?
Still tidier than the Bakers Arms though.
[quote][p][bold]the dame[/bold] wrote: Have you not seen the recent pictures of rubbish piled up in Barcelona as street cleaners are protesting at the budget cuts. Why do we not offer work to tried and trusted British companies?[/p][/quote]Still tidier than the Bakers Arms though. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Fri 8 Feb 13

chingford lad says...

Will the Council confirm the Spainish company will use British workers wherever possible? and do they know what side of the road we drive on?
Will the Council confirm the Spainish company will use British workers wherever possible? and do they know what side of the road we drive on? chingford lad
  • Score: 0

4:03pm Fri 8 Feb 13

jef costello says...

Er, it'll be the same street sweepers -just with different owners.

Literally anything would be better than Keir though.
Er, it'll be the same street sweepers -just with different owners. Literally anything would be better than Keir though. jef costello
  • Score: 0

4:15pm Fri 8 Feb 13

driftingcowboy says...

It will likely be the same employees who are mostly agency staff which reduces hire costs. It doesn't really matter which cleaning company gets the contract - one of the problems with Kier was that the contract terms had them starting from a low base and the other is the paltry fines (the few that actually were imposed by LCC) which are no deterrent to poor work. Kier were also guilty of poor supervision of street cleaning staff in our area.
It will likely be the same employees who are mostly agency staff which reduces hire costs. It doesn't really matter which cleaning company gets the contract - one of the problems with Kier was that the contract terms had them starting from a low base and the other is the paltry fines (the few that actually were imposed by LCC) which are no deterrent to poor work. Kier were also guilty of poor supervision of street cleaning staff in our area. driftingcowboy
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Fri 8 Feb 13

driftingcowboy says...

Of course the big question is what happened to all the money the council was supposed to save in the first place by using private contractors rather than in-house operatives? No money was saved at all!
Of course the big question is what happened to all the money the council was supposed to save in the first place by using private contractors rather than in-house operatives? No money was saved at all! driftingcowboy
  • Score: 0

5:08pm Fri 8 Feb 13

myopinioncounts says...

Our street sweeper - one man with a broom and a barrow - kept our roads cleaner than all the high tech stuff that is used now.
Our street sweeper - one man with a broom and a barrow - kept our roads cleaner than all the high tech stuff that is used now. myopinioncounts
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Fri 8 Feb 13

mdj says...

'Of course the big question is what happened to all the money the council was supposed to save in the first place..?'

It went straight back to Kier. As I understand the story - and I'd welcome more details, or corrections - Kier offered a 'saving' to the Council of £600,000 as compared with the in-house arrangement. Well over 100 FTE jobs were lost with the transfer, taking spending out of the local economy, and possibly imposing higher demands on Council budgets by turning wage earners into claimants.
Then it became apparent that the contract was not like-for-like, and all sorts of 'extras;' had to be found, including such obvious stuff as gully-cleaning, which was part of the deal previously.
The net result was a transfer of funds from local people, either as workers or taxpayers, into the pockets of Kiers' shareholders.
While job-creation is not a Council's job as such, if costs are equal it makes sense to have spare hands available for such emergencies as a heavy snowfall.

A large unanswered question is: who negotiated these damaging terms on behalf of the Council? Who do they work for now?

Now that Kier know that they are out, I hope the Council has kept a large enough retention on the contract to keep them interested in the service they provide up until the handover date, but I'm not optimistic.
As for the pedigree of a Spanish company, who knows? Promises on paper are cheap, and we've been here before.
'Of course the big question is what happened to all the money the council was supposed to save in the first place..?' It went straight back to Kier. As I understand the story - and I'd welcome more details, or corrections - Kier offered a 'saving' to the Council of £600,000 as compared with the in-house arrangement. Well over 100 FTE jobs were lost with the transfer, taking spending out of the local economy, and possibly imposing higher demands on Council budgets by turning wage earners into claimants. Then it became apparent that the contract was not like-for-like, and all sorts of 'extras;' had to be found, including such obvious stuff as gully-cleaning, which was part of the deal previously. The net result was a transfer of funds from local people, either as workers or taxpayers, into the pockets of Kiers' shareholders. While job-creation is not a Council's job as such, if costs are equal it makes sense to have spare hands available for such emergencies as a heavy snowfall. A large unanswered question is: who negotiated these damaging terms on behalf of the Council? Who do they work for now? Now that Kier know that they are out, I hope the Council has kept a large enough retention on the contract to keep them interested in the service they provide up until the handover date, but I'm not optimistic. As for the pedigree of a Spanish company, who knows? Promises on paper are cheap, and we've been here before. mdj
  • Score: 0

9:51pm Fri 8 Feb 13

Techno3 says...

I wonder how many councillors and council officers will be having trips to Spain in the coming years.
I wonder how many councillors and council officers will be having trips to Spain in the coming years. Techno3
  • Score: 0

8:16am Sat 9 Feb 13

driftingcowboy says...

driftingcowboy wrote:
It will likely be the same employees who are mostly agency staff which reduces hire costs. It doesn't really matter which cleaning company gets the contract - one of the problems with Kier was that the contract terms had them starting from a low base and the other is the paltry fines (the few that actually were imposed by LCC) which are no deterrent to poor work. Kier were also guilty of poor supervision of street cleaning staff in our area.
'LCC', I meant LBWF.
[quote][p][bold]driftingcowboy[/bold] wrote: It will likely be the same employees who are mostly agency staff which reduces hire costs. It doesn't really matter which cleaning company gets the contract - one of the problems with Kier was that the contract terms had them starting from a low base and the other is the paltry fines (the few that actually were imposed by LCC) which are no deterrent to poor work. Kier were also guilty of poor supervision of street cleaning staff in our area.[/p][/quote]'LCC', I meant LBWF. driftingcowboy
  • Score: 0

11:54am Sat 9 Feb 13

Sam Hain says...

What of the 50-60 local people who were employed to actually keep the streets clean during the Olympics (which they did extremely well) while Keir sat back and, presumably, laughed all the way to the bank? This new company may be based in Spain but does the SA imply South Africa. Not sure I like the sound of that much either. Must Google them.
What of the 50-60 local people who were employed to actually keep the streets clean during the Olympics (which they did extremely well) while Keir sat back and, presumably, laughed all the way to the bank? This new company may be based in Spain but does the SA imply South Africa. Not sure I like the sound of that much either. Must Google them. Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

5:45pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Robert19 says...

Sam Hain wrote:
What of the 50-60 local people who were employed to actually keep the streets clean during the Olympics (which they did extremely well) while Keir sat back and, presumably, laughed all the way to the bank? This new company may be based in Spain but does the SA imply South Africa. Not sure I like the sound of that much either. Must Google them.
Sam
It means Sociodad Anomina - anonymous society or limited liability company in our terms. Many of the Spanish lorries delivering strawberries to the UK at this time of year have SA as a suffix on the company name. My concern will be how long will they keep the contract. All contractors so far seem to have thrown in the towel some time before renewal. As someone else said what is wrong with direct labour?
[quote][p][bold]Sam Hain[/bold] wrote: What of the 50-60 local people who were employed to actually keep the streets clean during the Olympics (which they did extremely well) while Keir sat back and, presumably, laughed all the way to the bank? This new company may be based in Spain but does the SA imply South Africa. Not sure I like the sound of that much either. Must Google them.[/p][/quote]Sam It means Sociodad Anomina - anonymous society or limited liability company in our terms. Many of the Spanish lorries delivering strawberries to the UK at this time of year have SA as a suffix on the company name. My concern will be how long will they keep the contract. All contractors so far seem to have thrown in the towel some time before renewal. As someone else said what is wrong with direct labour? Robert19
  • Score: 0

8:38pm Sat 9 Feb 13

AirForceOne says...

Its our borough, why not employ our own people from top to bottom to clean the streets? How hard can it be? If the "contract" needs x number of people to do the job, then that's the price. The accountants always forget to factor in the social requirement. Our money isn't "going further" if we are not getting what we are paying for.
Its our borough, why not employ our own people from top to bottom to clean the streets? How hard can it be? If the "contract" needs x number of people to do the job, then that's the price. The accountants always forget to factor in the social requirement. Our money isn't "going further" if we are not getting what we are paying for. AirForceOne
  • Score: 0

4:15pm Sun 10 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

The leader of Oldham council has the council runningservices because that works better. He said:
"The vast majority of our workforce and all our council members live in the borough. We didn't think outsourcing offered any more advantages than having a strong public sector."
http://www.guardian.
co.uk/society/2012/j
un/26/jim-mcmahon-le
ader-oldham-council

From what I read, he is also devoted to openness and insists on councillors working, not just claiming expenses. What a lesson to the lazy, self-serving establishment in Waltham Forest!
The leader of Oldham council has the council runningservices because that works better. He said: "The vast majority of our workforce and all our council members live in the borough. We didn't think outsourcing offered any more advantages than having a strong public sector." http://www.guardian. co.uk/society/2012/j un/26/jim-mcmahon-le ader-oldham-council From what I read, he is also devoted to openness and insists on councillors working, not just claiming expenses. What a lesson to the lazy, self-serving establishment in Waltham Forest! Walthamster
  • Score: 0

9:23pm Sun 10 Feb 13

NT says...

I read that article, too.
I hope it is true.
If it is, it qualifies the oft repeated moan that 'they are all the same', and puts a further nail into the WF Labour coffin.
I read that article, too. I hope it is true. If it is, it qualifies the oft repeated moan that 'they are all the same', and puts a further nail into the WF Labour coffin. NT
  • Score: 0

10:46am Tue 12 Feb 13

LBWF-RESIDENT says...

Jim McMahon for priminister !!
Jim McMahon for priminister !! LBWF-RESIDENT
  • Score: 0

10:57am Tue 12 Feb 13

Walthamster says...

LBWF-RESIDENT wrote:
Jim McMahon for priminister !!
Or for leader of Waltham Forest council! Why do we have to put up with such rubbish politicians?

And as NT says, the Oldham case show that it can be done. Oldham is far from rich, and has plenty of problems of its own. If they can make dramatic improvements, why can't Waltham Forest? Our council does make dramatic changes, but always for the worse.
[quote][p][bold]LBWF-RESIDENT[/bold] wrote: Jim McMahon for priminister !![/p][/quote]Or for leader of Waltham Forest council! Why do we have to put up with such rubbish politicians? And as NT says, the Oldham case show that it can be done. Oldham is far from rich, and has plenty of problems of its own. If they can make dramatic improvements, why can't Waltham Forest? Our council does make dramatic changes, but always for the worse. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

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