The Public Realm Contract has now been agreed by Brent Council. The attempt to create a controversy over the bidding process appears to have petered out as quickly as it appeared quite a long way into the negotiation.
This allows us to pay more attention to what the contract is actually about, waste collection, street cleaning and grounds maintenance in Brent. A lot of work was done in the lead up to the formal tender to make sure that the process was really competitive. The previous administration signed a contract in 2007 that didn't really get value for money, because Veolia weren't really put on the spot to justify winning the business. A number of signals went out thius time to achieve the opposite. These included, investment in a depot in Alperton, changing the contract for the blue top bin waste to a different supplier, and refusing to extend the lifetime of the existing contract. The result was a genuinely competitive examination of the issues that should set us up well for future progress.
However, Brent will have to make sure that it clients the process well so that the new ways of doing things are adhered to and that the contract works well over time. Different ways of doing things include: banded town centre collections, a very different role for the contractor in communications, an output focused approach to street cleaning, greater emphasis on waste reduction, different street gritting arrangements, different waste collection expectations, maybe smaller bins, lower carbon emissions, weekend cleaning in parks. This is in addition to all the fairly substantial changes made during the life of the current contract including alternate weekly collections, and the package of measures introduced at the start of this financial year.
Agreeing all this is a substantial achievement, but keeping on top of it during the life of the contract will also need attention, and will be one of the big challenges going forward.
I got a little further detail on the public realm contract here.