Council-owned waste service in Blaenau Gwent back under authority’s full control
The process of bringing a troubled council-owned waste services firm under the authority’s full control is now “over the line,” a senior Blaenau Gwent councillor has said.
At a special meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet on Friday, April 28, councillors agreed to delegate powers to council officers to finalise the details to allow Silent Valley Waste Services to be merged into the council.
In February 2022, the council agreed to take over Silent Valley following a damning report by Audit Wales.
The report published in January 2022 highlighted that the council failed to establish robust and effective arrangements in its relationship with Silent Valley between 2003 and 2017.
Deputy council leader and environment cabinet member, Cllr Helen Cunningham updated the council on how the takeover process is going and to agree the final arrangements.
Cllr Cunningham said: “The first one is to agree the final terms of the hiving-up agreement and any ancillary agreements alongside that.”
This is to formally reorganise Silent Valley and transfer its business and assets to the council.
Going on to the second proposal, Cllr Cunningham said: “To agree the deed of performance between the council and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which will enable the transfer of the environment permit that we need to enable us to operate the site.”
The cabinet also agreed the resolutions of the Silent Valley board of directors – which was to approve the transfer of assets and business to the council.
Silent Valley staff will be transferred to work for the council and the company will be officially wound up three months after it has “ceased trading.”
The company’s finances will be put into a council reserve account to “support the ongoing financial commitments” of Silent Valley.
These are to pay for the aftercare of the Silent Valley Landfill site at Cwm and also deal with water that leaks from the site.
Cllr Cunningham explained that as of March 31, 2022, Silent Valley had £1.86 million for aftercare provision and the profit and loss account had £1.5 million.
The transfer of the environment permit will allow the council to operate the landfill site until 2076 and also includes a “financial commitment” with the NRW.
Net costs of providing the service in house this year will be £1.65 million, which is in the council’s “agreed financial envelope” and will be factored into the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.
Cllr Cunningham said: “This has been a huge piece of work I’d like to thank the officers, Silent Valley board and staff.
Council leader Cllr Steve Thomas said: “Clearly this has been a long running issue and thankfully it’s over the line.”
“Most councillors would have been most concerned about the financial envelope, and I’m pleased to say that has been answered and we are fine and fit to go.”
Social Services portfolio holder Cllr Hayden Trollope said: “All through this we’ve been working with the trade union, and everybody has been aware of what we are doing, and we have full agreement.”
The cabinet unanimously agreed the report.
By BBC LDRS
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