LABOUR councillors believe they are onto a winner with plans to take waste management in Cheshire West back into public control.

Kier has decided to end its involvement in waste collection services nationwide to focus on construction, and its contract for handling the borough’s waste will now end on March 31, 2020.

The ruling party wants Cheshire West and Chester Council to run the service not-for-profit – with the possibility of setting up an arms-length company under cooperative principles set to be considered.

Cllr Richard Beacham, Labour member for Newton, is excited at the chance to create a service that would be for the benefit of every CWAC taxpayer.

“This is an opportunity to build a waste service with our own vision,” he said.

“If we think about the problems that we face as a species and on our planet, our responsibility is to try to deal with the challenges we face around things like waste, energy and plastic.

“We have been faced with the question of whether waste service should be run as a private enterprise, or whether it should be a public service, owned and managed by the people and not for profit, and providing the highest-quality service it can be.

“Personally I think this is a golden opportunity – one of the most brilliant things that I will be involved in as a councillor – to recreate a municipal waste service that is about creating the best possible service, not profit for shareholders.”

CWAC’s administration says the new service must ‘lead the way for other councils’ and be run as a municipal service that is ‘rooted in communities’ – with high standards to be maintained.

It is understood that both the existing assets and staff at Kier would be transferred over to the new arms-length company.

Cllr Sam Naylor, Labour member for Winnington and Castle, added: “I’m pleased for the workers.

“I went out canvassing and spoke to a worker at Kier who said his colleagues are over the moon. They fell as though they will be better valued and that there will be more pride in the work in the community.

“We shouldn’t get into the situation where mess is being left after collections, or people’s bin lids are not being put back on –we as an authority would have more control to deal with that.”

CWAC’s cabinet is due to sign off plans to pursue setting up a ‘local authority trading organisation’ at Wednesday’s meeting.

A further report is due to come back to cabinet in June 2019 where detailed plans on how the cooperative would work – in a meeting that will take place one month after Labour battles the Conservatives for control of CWAC in the local elections.

Cllr Lynn Riley, leader of CWAC’s Conservative opposition, believes that Kier has done a good job with the borough’s waste services because penalties written into the contract meant the council has kept a ‘very tight ship’ with the firm.

She now wants to see how the local authority can pick up where Kier leaves off.

“The contract that was set up in 2012 was probably one of the best pieces of contract work that the council has ever done,” said the Frodsham councillor.

“When services are commissioned and run correctly you get great performance, the recycling rate improves and you get less reliance on landfill – as Cheshire West has done. When you do it badly it can all go horribly wrong.

“I have to say, and I have said it to the chief executive, I have some very significant concerns over the council’s ability to manage this as an externalised business.

“We in the Conservative Group are going to want some very strong assurances that the arrangements we put in place will continue, that the risks are adequately understood and that the council will operate this without interference or neglect.

“In some respects we do have an opportunity to shape this but it needs to include forward thinking.”