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Seven boroughs left with £21 million bill over PFI waste contract that will never be signed

PUBLISHED: 19:29 10 October 2013 | UPDATED: 19:44 10 October 2013

A £4.7billion deal for rubbish disposal in Hackney and Islington has collapsed because it would have cost £1bn more than the present service.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has already spent £21million of taxpayers’ money over the past seven years trying to thrash out what would have been a 30-year waste disposal service for seven London boroughs, including Camden, Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Waltham Forest.

This means that each borough will be left with a bill of more than £3m for a contract to part-privatise the service that will now never be signed.

A statement on the NLWA website said: “The authority now believes a less expensive solution can be found in a time when council finances are under pressure.

“This decision will save north London money in the short to medium term, and could save us a total of up to £900 million over almost 30 years.”

The deal should have been signed off last December but was delayed when Veolia pulled out without publicly giving its reasons, meaning only FCC/Skansa was left in the running.

Last November Hackney councillors blocked resident Caroline Day from giving a five minute speech in a council meeting about the deal.

She had wanted to flag up concerns about one of the two bidders, Veolia, which provides transport links, waste, water and sewage services to Israeli settlements in the West Bank that are considered illegal under international law.

But she was stopped just as she was about to speak, because of a motion supported by most councillors in the chamber, from raising concerns about the cost of the contract – which would have cost Hackney’s council tax payers around £130m.
She was going to warn that under the proposed plan the price of processing waste could almost triple.

This week she told the Gazette: “Ultimately in future the council needs to listen to its residents over crucial issues such as how ethical contractors are, and what value, or not, they deliver for citizens.”

Chairman of NLWA, Cllr Clyde Loakes, said the change in approach was because of recent developments in North London’s planning policy situation, meaning the current facility at Edmonton can be used until at least 2025.

He said £18 million of the £21 million spent on procurement had been spent on external advisors which will inform future strategy development, and be of long term use to the Authority.

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