Agenda item

Sarah Kerr asked the Executive Member for Environment and Leisure the following question:




It has been highlighted that there are serious flaws in the options appraisal that could materially change the outcome of the report.  Why is this same options appraisal still being used when it's clearly flawed?



Your question is not specific, nor does it cite an example either. However, based on your question at Overview and Scrutiny on 26 August I think I can maybe wrongly deduce that this is around the ‘write-off’ and the lifespan of the respective containers.  Given that the Scrutiny Committee supported the recommendations of the report, I am a little bit unclear how you can make this assertion.


I can confirm that the life expectancy of the bags is five years as per the manufacturers testing and delivery experience. They anticipate a lifespan more than this, but this depends on how you look after them as well, but have identified a prudent timeframe.  They can last for many years and this certainly reflects Wokingham’s experience with the garden waste bags pre 2012 that lasted well beyond the five years and it is expected that this solution will also last beyond 2026 if required.  But if you can be a bit more specific with your question I can ask the Officers to produce a written response to you if that helps?


Supplementary Question

I have a further question but will just provide a couple of examples which I provided at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  So one of the things actually relates to the question Mr Johnson asked earlier.  It actually states in the report that the replacement rates for sacks, when working out the financial side of things, is 7.5% which equates to 13.3 years.  So the finances of this and the weighting on that was based on these sacks having that kind of replacement rate.  Clearly it is not right and that could have a material effect on the outcome.


Another example is the capacity of sacks is modelled on 90 litres when we are actually taking 60 litres and given that there is no limit to the number of boxes or sacks that people are allowed actually why is capacity even part of the weighting anyway when people can have as much capacity as they want.  So that is just two examples but I can provide you with more and I can provide those in writing.


The other question I wanted to ask, that comes out of this, is that the problem of wet waste has been known about for about a year now by this Council, since last autumn.  So it is a year to find a solution and lids, as we said earlier, were identified early on as a possible solution and they were going to be trialled in two wards at the beginning of 2020.  At the call-in we were told that the trial did not happen in case the solution did not work.  But that is the whole point of a trial to find out if a solution does or does not work and there are a lot of assumptions in this business case that need to be tested as many of them are quite off the wall, particularly with residents and how they are going to react to it.  Doing a trail would have been an obvious step to take for any fiscally responsible organisation so the question that comes out of it is why given that you have had a year has the proposed solution not been trialled in Wokingham Borough?


Supplementary Answer

We wanted to get the best possible advice and our Officers, very experienced Officers, were set about finding a solution and we interviewed about four consultants and one was appointed who was very experienced.  They have extensive experience in recommending this particular bag to other authorities so the trial was in many ways their vast experience.  When we compared the bags with the boxes with the lids and the shower caps this option was very, very, cost effective and very effective in keeping our waste dry and that was the whole objective.  So trialling using other authorities that were actually using the bags so it was prudent to actually look for that very expert advice and we did and here we are.  We had to go through a number of hoops to actually appoint the consultant, then they were appointed, then we issued them with a very thorough business case and they have come up with this best solution.  Here we are now to actually approve tonight, hopefully, the purchase of these bags and the funding which was already earmarked on 30 July.


If you do want to give me a detailed question by all means do so and I will make sure that you get a written answer.