Merton Planning to Bring Street Cleaning In House

Bin collection to also be retendered in two years' time

Borough had been dubbed after problems with street cleaning services

February 22, 2023

Merton could soon see its street cleaning service brought back in-house. The borough is considering managing the service itself after just 30per cent of residents were happy with how clean the streets were.

Merton is one of four councils in the South London Waste Partnership which announced it will exit its contract with Veolia in 2025. The borough has previously been branded “mucky Merton” by opposition councillors and locals fed up with seeing rubbish on the streets.

At a meeting on Monday night (20 February), cabinet member for environment, Councillor Natasha Irons, said a residents survey found 63 per cent were satisfied with their bin collection service. However, satisfaction levels for street cleaning in the borough were very low at just 30per cent in 2022, down from 45per cent the previous year.

Cllr Irons said, “We are making a recommendation to split the service to have street cleaning brought back in-house and to outsource the bin collections to the wider market to use their technical expertise.

“There is a risk to this approach to decouple these two halves, this decision gives officers the opportunity to go to the market and see what interest there is in this service and see how we may be able to deliver it.”

Cllr Irons added that the council would be putting together robust plans over the next year to make sure there was a smooth transfer to the council’s own service. Details of exactly how the contract will be run will come back to a future cabinet meeting.

In 2022, Merton issued Veolia with a Service Improvement Notice (SIN) following “significant and ongoing concerns” over the quality of street cleaning in the borough. The South London Waste Partnership also includes Sutton, Croydon and Kingston councils. The four councils are currently considering options for the future.

Andrea Keys, partnership director said while the contract has provided “substantial cost savings” for the councils it has “also had its challenges”. She said: “Veolia’s proposal to extend the contract reflects the significant changes in the wider market since it was signed five years ago, and, following a detailed options appraisal, the outcome shows that the partners may benefit from new specifications that reflect borough-specific service priorities and performance standards.”

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter