I have already covered the Public Realm Contract in a number of posts. This is is one of the most important contracts of the past four years and the negotiating process took years to get to the present outcome.
I had the opportunity to talk to one of the senior officers about it a few days ago, and was pleased to find that my concerns about curtilage collections seem to have been misplaced. These are an important part of the financial savings since they allow fewer bin men to be employed. They got a soft start in November, and a fuller enforcement in January. So far, compliance is in the region of 98%, which greatly exceeds my expectations.
The same conversation allowed me to find out more about the eventual communication arrangements. Responsibility for communications will pass from the Council to Veolia, who are hugely increasing the budget available. This was apparently very important to Veolia during the competitive dialogue. Their argument was that effective communications are crucial to making the contract work in terms of reducing waste, upping recycling and so on. Those who, like Eric Pickles, think of Council communications as just waste or at best a frippery that can be easily disposed of, should think about that.
London Living Wage
The final element that the conversation covered was the assurance that all the contractor's employees will be paid London Living Wage or above. The cost of this is about £55k a year, which is a fairly modest addition to such a big contract. Some campaigners say they have found this information difficult to obtain. I would have thought that if Brent Council is serious in achieving LLW it has to map out where it is being paid and where not.