Opposition and residents petition Derbyshire Dales council for independent inquiry into Serco contract
More than 600 Derbyshire Dales residents have signed a petition calling on the district council to commission an independent inquiry into the operations of waste contractor Serco and its handling of the ongoing bin collection crisis.
The petition was led by local Liberal Democrats but supported by members of other parties who wish to identify the extent of Serco’s non-compliance with its contractual obligations and whether any penalties are applicable.
Ashbourne resident Peter Dobbs, who organised the initiative, said: “We started the petition shortly after the full council meeting on July 27. It seemed extraordinary to us that Serco were being given taxpayers money, earmarked for Covid recovery, whilst at the same time being allowed to stop collecting garden waste.
“The decision to divert food waste to landfill with the corresponding increase in greenhouse gases was the final straw.”
He added: “The scrutiny of an independent inquiry will allow an analysis of what went wrong, what options were available and why certain choices were made.
“Most importantly it will allow informed decisions to be made in order to ensure a long term sustainable solution to waste collection and recycling in the Dales.”
The request for an independent enquiry was first made by Councillor Peter O’Brien at a meeting of the community and environment committee on July 5, but was rejected by the Conservative chair who suggested that a number of steps had already been taken to solve the HGV driver shortage.
Coun O’Brien said: “I think the residents of the Derbyshire Dales have every right to ask for this inquiry. Despite the council agreeing reductions in the service, and offering to pay half the cost of a pay rise, serious disruptions are continuing.
“It’s clear that residents have lost confidence in both Serco and the council, and the only way this can be restored is through a full and independent investigation into exactly what's going on.”
The petition will be presented to the full council on October 14 when a motion calling for an independent inquiry will be debated.
Claire Cadogan, who lives in Edensor and chairs the Derbyshire Dales Liberal Democrats, said: “I’m astonished that, given their answers to our questions to date, the council does not seem to be assessing the huge impact of Serco’s actions both on residents and on our environment.
“Residents in Derbyshire Dales have the right to know how and why the situation has become as serious as it has, and what lessons the council needs to learn for its management of waste contracts in the future, particularly when outsourced to a company who made profits of around £120million in the first six months of 2021.”
If you would like to support the petition you can sign it at http://dales.lib.dm/P43R.