Fletching contract halted as burial waste costs triple

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Almost tripling the cost of waste collection from burial grounds has led to Fletching Parish Council cancelling its contract with new contractor Kier.

The company was given Wealden’s waste and recycling contract at the end of last year, saving the cash-strapped district council £750,000 a year, and came into force in April.

But since then community organisations have found their bills have soared as they are being charged business rates rather than the previous council domestic rates.

Fletching parish councillor Barry Dickens said the bill for waste collection at the village burial ground rose from £80 to £218.

“Wealden are saying how much money they have saved by giving the contract to Kier but they are making all the parish councils have to cough up,” he said, giving his own personal view.

“That means the parish councils have to charge the residents through the parish precept.”

Mr Dickens lives near the burial ground and said grass cuttings, dead flowers and wreaths were collected.

As the wreaths are made using wire this makes the waste mixed instead of green.

“Kier said the problem was we are in a rural area so we have decided to deal with it ourselves.

“It’s the same for little village businesses, which are struggling to survive as it is.

“The recreation ground is also struggling as it is charity run.”

He said Kier made a U-turn on charges for village halls but not for burial grounds and recreation grounds, despite objections being made.

The Sussex Express recently reported in the Hailsham edition how bin collection fees for village halls were set to rise by up to 300 per cent across the district.

But Kier then decided village and church halls and places of worship could have one 240 litre bin emptied free each week.

However the move was still criticised as not going far enough as larger halls would need more than the specified amount collected.

A spokesperson for Wealden District Council said: “Kier has purchased the details of our customer base which they are seeking to retain - commercial waste collections is a highly developed and competitive marketplace and if customers receive quotations higher than previous costs they may wish to contact Kier who will be happy to discuss any individual customer enquiries in more detail.

“The Joint Waste Partnership was entered into by the local authorities of Wealden, Eastbourne Hastings and Rother.

It will save Wealden £750,000 a year with no increase in council tax charges.”

Kier Environmental Services has a £12 million per year contract with Wealden, Eastbourne Borough, Hastings Borough, and Rother District councils.

The contract is part of a multi-council agreement to save the four authorities around £30million over the next decade and is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, serving up to 200,000 residents across 550 square miles.