Furious waste bosses have broken their silence over Allerdale’s bins fiasco, laying the blame squarely at the council’s door.

FCC Environment launched a broadside against council chiefs for their handling of the crisis which saw some services suspended earlier this year.

The parting blow comes after Allerdale Borough Council has confirmed it is terminating the £25 million contract on April 3 next year, an acrimonious end to a 16-year professional relationship.

FCC Environment said it was “deeply disappointed” not only with the decision but also with how elected members had handled attempts to reach a resolution.

Waste chiefs also blasted the council for the way it had conducted itself during the bid process and described the contract itself as “fundamentally flawed”.

Under the previous Labour-led administration, the council re-tendered the contract as part of its plans to improve recycling and cut costs.

FCC Environment emerged as the preferred bidder and was re-appointed, with the then council leader Alan Smith describing the refreshed bin service as “gold-plated”.

Cracks in the service appeared in April with the introduction of new bin collection rounds and new lorries.

But it was in July, during the tenure of the present Independent-Conservative executive, that the controversial decision was taken in to temporarily suspend garden waste and glass, cans and plastic recycling services.

The move, which sparked public outrage, was intended to allow contractors to prioritise household waste collection and to allow time to thrash out a solution.

Commenting on the long-running debacle, FCC said that it “soon became clear” that the services procured were “not sufficient” to meet the needs of the borough.

Waste bosses said they had highlighted “serious issues” with the information provided by the council in its original bid documentation.
FCC said the “inaccuracy” of this council data was “root cause” of the “under-resourcing” of this contract.

A spokesman added: “It became clear, as mobilisation commenced in April 2019, that the service the council had specified during procurement did not reflect the service actually required on the ground, as FCC had pointed out during meetings.

“The data inaccuracies meant around 2,500 properties were missed from the data and a substantial number of the commercial collection services were not included.

“This led to a number of households being missed from the collection schedule and incomplete rounds being recorded.”

A working group made up of senior officers and FCC was set up to address the issues.

FCC Environment said they had offered a “fully-costed” and “robust solution” that would have allowed the council to provide its residents with the level of service promised.

They also stressed that they had delivered these additional resources at their own cost as “an act of goodwill” for a full three months until a permanent solution could be found.

The contractors said that senior council officers had acknowledged issues with their data, even drafting the unsigned contract to give FCC the green light to make changes.

But they claimed that the new council members elected in May had “reneged on this agreement” when they suspended part of the service in July, only to then agree the “exact same service” as an interim solution just two months later.

Contractors claimed this decision taken by the present executive came “as a result of increasing media and political attention.”

FCC said it only learned of a proposal to bring the waste services in-house through press coverage, amid claims that this option had been “deemed unviable” by the council during the procurement process.

And it has accused the council of seeking to “blame” FCC, though it has insisted it did “everything in its power to resolve the issues” and believed it had provided an acceptable solution.

Allerdale council has been approached for comment.