Bridgend County Borough Council and Biffa

Bridgend County Borough Council is a unitary authority delivering a full range of key services to approximately 133 000 people. The household refuse collections are currently carried out by Biffa on behalf of the council.

The authority carried out a risk assessment for waste collection services. This identified a potential risk to vulnerable members of the public from collection vehicle movements near schools. As a result, the contract specified that no collections were to take place near a school when pupils were entering or leaving the site at the start and end of the school day.

A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) and associated documentation was evaluated by trained and competent staff, including members of the authority's health and safety and waste management teams working together – making reference to any relevant HSE guidance. This meant the evaluation process was rigorous and the questionnaires were scored appropriately.

Of the available points on the PQQ, 20% were attributed to management of health and safety indicators, such as details of policy, management structure, employee communication, training, accident and ill health data, risk assessments and competency of staff. Not reaching an acceptable score on the PQQ can exclude a bidder, but the authority may also make further enquires to seek clarification on specific aspects, such as remedial action taken to deal with accidents or previous enforcement notices.

The authority asks for details of any awards or external quality accreditation schemes. Specific reference is made to the ISO18000 series on health and safety management, but other schemes are not excluded.

Once the preferred bidders were selected their submitted tenders were then evaluated by members of both the health and safety, and waste management teams. Reference was made to HSE's existing guidance and benchmarks for the service in question and this was used to evaluate/discuss content of method statements with the bidder.

The contract was originally awarded using the restricted tender process, but the authority has now adopted the competitive dialogue procedure for future waste contracts, which has the benefit of allowing greater discussion with the preferred bidders over how they would undertake the task and discussion of method statements etc.

Although Biffa operate the household waste collection service on behalf of the authority, the performance of the contract is monitored by competent officers from the authority. This monitoring includes specific health and safety elements such as: wearing of the correct PPE; effectiveness of CCTV on vehicles; and aspects covering general delivery of the services, eg missed bins.

This monitoring comprises a mixture of joint exercises where both the authority inspector and a manager from Biffa work together (as shown in the photograph) as well as unannounced spot checks made by the authority inspector alone.

The results of the monitoring are fed back and reviewed at regular meetings between the authority and Biffa. Shortcomings are identified, and action plans are developed to address them and agreed by both sides.

Penalty clauses can be invoked by the authority if they are deemed appropriate but these are usually reserved for the more serious breaches or continued non-compliance after warnings have been given.

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Updated: 2021-06-30