On Monday, buried in the midst of the National Budget announcements so as to spare Labour Councillors embarrassment, Dublin City Council announced that after more than 140 years it is to transfer the City Council’s commercial and domestic waste collection business to Greyhound Recycling and Recovery.
This deal was made despite Dublin City Councillors recently voting on three occasions not to privatise the domestic bin collections in the city.
I am not opposed in principle to the privatisation of the domestic bin collection service however I remain resolutely opposed to this decision at this time because it is premature in the absence of legislation to facilitate the regulation of domestic waste collection in the city. I can’t understand why the Labour and Fine Gael Councillors would not wait for their own government colleagues to legislate for the regulation of a privatised bin service before withdrawing the universal bin collection provided by DCC in the city.
Under the deal Greyhound will assume responsibility for collecting the green, brown and grey bins from the City Council’s 140, 000 customers on 16th January 2012. It has been contracted to collect the City Council’s green bin recycling waste for the last three years and the service has been, at times, very poor and led to many complaints from residents.
This deal means homeowners in the city will likely face an increase in bin charges in the new year and the waiver, which Fianna Fail introduced, for 40,000 low income households will almost certainly be removed. There is no commitment from Greyhound to accept any new waiver applications. Already DCC spends €350k a year to clean-up dumping of un-tagged bags of rubbish, this cost is likely to dramatically increase once the waiver scheme is taken way.
Dublin City Council were advised by Ernst and Young on the deal and the commercial details of the deal remain secretive. The Manager has refused to share details of the deal with Councillors. On the basis of “commercial sensitivity” he will not tell me what payment if any DCC is to receive from Greyhound for their customer base and other related assets or how much of the €14m bad debt associated with the service is to be assumed by Greyhound.
This deal has come about because Labour and Fine Gael Councillors supported the City Council Annual budget at a meeting on Oct 28th 2011. They were not similarly inclined to support the Fianna Fail proposal that the Councillors conference expenses of €150k be ring fenced for community services. This is a bad deal for the city it is going to lead to increased pollution, illegal dumping and unnecessary costs. It is a bad deal for householders because charges are going to increase and it is a really bad deal for low income households because it will hurt them most.
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