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Council Attempts to Bully Charity out of Recycling

Stirling Council have attempted to call time on local community recycling champions Alloa Community Enterprises (ACE) by introducing their own bottle banks and employing an alternative contractor to service them.

ACE, UK Community Recycling Project of the year 2001, have provided a glass collection for over 12 years in the Stirling area and have extended collections from just 4 sites in 1991 to over 45. ACE are now also collecting cans, textiles and furniture as part of a partnership with the Council.

However, the Council who earlier this year received £31.3 million from the Scottish Executive¹s Strategic Waste Fund have decided that they can now afford to do things themselves despite the fact that Scottish Executive
guidance apparently supports partnership working with the community sector.

Stirling Council have now deployed glass recycling banks at all of the locations currently operated by ACE and have told the community group that their services are no longer wanted. A tender for the collection of the glass from the new banks has been won by a private firm from outside of Edinburgh. ACE, however, have challenged both the legality of the tender process and the criteria for its evaluation. ACE maintain that their service
represents best value as it integrates a number of different materials and would have saved the council over £65,000 on the cost of the new bins as ACE would have provided their own.

Dr Alf Martin, ACE Chairperson said, ³We are astounded by this course of events. For over 12 years we have worked in partnership with Stirling Council to improve recycling services to the communities of the
Stirlingshire area. We have introduced recycling to many of the rural villages as far up as Killin, Tyndrum and Aberfoyle and have valued the relationship which has built up over these years both with the public and
the elected members and officials. We were also pleased to be invited by the council to attend the various meetings which they held to promote the Area Waste Plan to demonstrate the importance of community partnership. But alas all of that seems to have been for nothing.²

ACE are also being forced off the many private sites which they occupy even though they have agreements with the landlords such as Tesco and Sainsburys to continue to provide banks at their stores. Tony Cassidy, ACE General Manager, said, ³ It looks like the council have not consulted with anyone on this. They have simply come along and dropped their banks down and pushed ours out of the way. This is crazy. We¹re all meant to be working together to improve recycling not competing. The council are spending thousands on replacing our service when they should be spending the money trying to get more people to recycle.²

In June, ACE wrote to all of the 22 elected officials in the council asking that they reconsider the position but have until now received only one individual response from a Conservative councilor and nothing from any of
the ruling Labour administration.

In a further twist the Council are now appearing to be appointing further contractors for the other materials collected by ACE such as textiles although, unlike in the case for glass, no tendering process seems to be
being carried out.

On this latest turn of events Tony Cassidy added, ³This goes to prove that the whole mechanism for appointing contractors has been flawed from the beginning. On one hand we are told that the council are being forced to
tender for glass and then they start appointing who they like for the other materials. What¹s the difference? Either you have to tender of you don¹t.²

ACE¹s other collection services in Clackmannanshire and Falkirk are unaffected.

As part of the National Waste Plan all councils are required to prepare an Implementation Plan, which should include policies for partnerships with community groups. On the 3rd February 2003 Environment and Rural Development Minister, Ross Finnie said, at the announcement that Stirling Council were to receive their money from the Strategic Waste Fund, "The plans we are now funding have been drawn up in partnership with local
communities, neighbouring councils and the not-for profit sector. This substantial funding will support urgent action to bring about real improvements in these communities. The not-for-profit sector has an important role to play in delivering community-based recycling and other sustainable waste projects. We are keen to see that role retained and enhanced.²

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SRMS - Sustainable Resource Management Services

 


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