West Norfolk councillor hints at second chance for recycling firm after contract axe

Contract Signing, Brian Long (right) (Deputy Leader KL&WNBC) with Robert Billson (left) (Managing Director Material Works) ENGANL00120121213102833
Contract Signing, Brian Long (right) (Deputy Leader KL&WNBC) with Robert Billson (left) (Managing Director Material Works) ENGANL00120121213102833
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A company whose contract to process West Norfolk’s black bin waste was cancelled last week may still have a future in the borough, according to a senior councillor.

West Norfolk Council chiefs said they had no choice but to end their association with Material Works, because it had so far failed to meet the terms of its contract.

But deputy leader Brian Long has hinted the door may not yet be fully closed on the firm.

He said other authorities in Norfolk are currently looking at schemes which are “not dissimilar” to what Material Works had proposed.

And he said the company should initially make contact with the Norfolk Waste Partnership if their project does move forward.

But he admitted: “If they can demonstrate they could meet their conditions, we would be talking to them again.”

Following last Friday’s announcement of the contract cancellation, a Material Works spokesman said the company was exploring alternative options, but declined to give further details.

No further comment had been received as the Lynn News went to press yesterday.

But the decision to terminate the contract followed months of growing concern among councillors and officials about the slow pace of progress.

Labour group leader John Collop said he was “not particularly surprised” by the decision to end the agreement.

He stopped short of calling for a resignation, saying he wanted to hear what Mr Long had to say on the issue at last night’s full council meeting.

But he added: “He’s got a lot of questions to answer.”

Meanwhile, UKIP group leader Paul Foster questioned the timing of and justification for the decision, in the light of the council’s instistence that it was not liable for any financial loss from the contract and previous comments that there were no alternatives available.

He said: “The council has given no sound reasons for cancelling the contract.”

But Mr Long said the decision had to be taken at this stage so the borough could share the benefits of other potential solutions, whose developers would otherwise have been deterred from coming to West Norfolk if the council was persisting with Material Works.

And, while he admitted being “bitterly disappointed” by the cancellation, he strongly defended both the decision to enter the agreement with Material Works and his wider recycling record.

He said: “The one good thing that has come out of this is that it demonstrated there are alternatives out there that aren’t burning and aren’t landfill.”

Of his critics, he added: “I have massively increased what can be recycled. It’s very easy to be critical. but what have they done to improve recycling?”