Published on 8th March 2013

A recycling operative emptying a green recycling box

Ubico, the council’s environmental services provider, came into operation on 1 April 2012.

Nearly a year on the scrutiny task group has been tasked with reviewing the service provided by Ubico - and how Cheltenham Borough Council interacts with Ubico - to see the effectiveness of the service for customers and suggest where improvements can be made.

Overall, the task group is satisfied that the Service Level Agreement is being met, performance is good and any issues that have arisen have been quickly dealt with. However, given that the arrangement with Ubico has only been in operation for less than 12 months there are a few points to address.

The group has suggested seven recommendations which will be discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) committee when they meet on 18 March. Subject to the feedback received from O&S, the recommendations will then go to Cabinet on 16 April.   

The seven recommendations are:
1: Review the decision not to nominate any borough councillors to the Board by September 2013 as some members of the task group feel borough councillors should be more involved.

2: Review the customer service arrangements by the end of September 2013 and consider whether delivery of this service should return to the depot as the report acknowledges that some areas of customer service could be improved.

3: Review internal and external communication strategies by September 2013 as the task group feels there needs to be more proactive communication to residents promoting the benefits of recycling and explaining why policies such as ‘close bin lid’ are put in place.

4: Review the emptying frequency timetable for the bring site facilities as part of the review of bring sites by September 2013 as the group has concerns with the bring site facilities and the need to ensure the skips are cleared on a regular basis.

5: Consider the adoption of waste and recycling literature (bin tags) which include information including collection dates, bin information and key messages, as these provide residents with a better understanding with the reasoning behind the policies.

6: At the end of the season (end of April 2013) assess the overall impact of the decision by the senior football league to cease coordination of their sports pitch bookings. If this has had a largely negative impact on resources within the customer services team then there is a need to ask the senior football league to reconsider their decision due to concerns that the current booking process is too labour intensive.

7: Consider providing additional marketing resource on an invest to save basis for the promotion of the trade waste service by September 2013, in order to secure new business.

Councillor Andrew Chard is chair of the group, said: “This has been a very worthwhile examination of the services provided by the Council through Ubico and a lot of lessons have been learnt. The response to the bad weather a few weeks ago also showed us what needed to be changed. Overall the service is working well, where we must improve is in communicating details of the service to residents and businesses in Cheltenham and we need the Council more involved with the overall strategic management so that our local taxpayers are getting the service they want and deserve."
Councillor Roger Whyborn, cabinet member for sustainability, added: “"The Scrutiny group has worked hard and should be commended for not being afraid to lift all the stones, and ask the difficult questions. Some of the recommendations are quite far reaching and deserve thorough examination, and it is good that Cllr Chard has given till September to complete the reviews. I do agree however that getting the message right and clearly communicating it to residents and businesses are real keys to getting it all right, especially during times of bad weather, or times of change."

The full agenda is available here and the report can be found here.

For press enquiries contact: Laura Carter, telephone 01242 264154 or email [email protected]

Notes for the editor:
The review looks at services provided by Ubico and also the client side and customer services elements provided by Cheltenham Borough Council.
The majority of the recommendations relate to activities undertaken by Cheltenham Borough Council or to activities within their control.