Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council loaned Serco £5million interest-free to buy 44 gas-guzzling rubbish trucks.

According to their statement of accounts, published in March, it was their single largest loan of 2019. 

And Serco, who generated £3.2billion in revenue last year, has eight years to pay it off - interest free. 

The British company, whose headquarters are based in Hook, won the £88million contact to oversee the bin services in Basingstoke after promising to 'enhance' the service by meeting targets and improving customer services. 

As part of the tender process, the firms bidding for the contract were asked to provide an estimate cost for a fleet of new waste vehicles.

A Councillor previously described the vehicles as "not environmentally friendly".

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has set itself targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Serco's fleet of 44 trucks are manufactered by Dennis and are fuelled by diesel, weighing 26tonnes each.

While they meet the Euro 6 emissions standards, air quality experts say these don't go far enough.

A single Euro 6 diesel bin lorry generates 27 tonnes of CO2 each year.

According to Nottingham City Council, you would have to plant 10,000 trees to offset a single Euro 6 diesel bin lorry's emissions over ten years. 

Writing in August 2019, Cllr Paul Harvey said: "The borough council, in awarding the contract to Serco, agreed to loan them £5million to pay for a new fleet of waste trucks that are not environmentally friendly."

Highlighting the problems residents were having with waste collections at the time, Cllr Harvey said there needed to be "proper and open scrutiny" over the contract because "millions of taxpayers' pounds" are at stake.

As part of its tender submission, Serco promised 'a significant number of service enhancements’ that included:

  • Stronger performance targets and improved performance monitoring
  • Improved customer service
  • A new fleet of vehicles (which the council loaned the money for)
  • And four resident satisfaction surveys per annum

An overview of Serco's handling of waste management was presented to the council in November 2019.

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Cllr Hayley Eachus, the cabinet member who oversees waste, said at the time: "As the Cabinet Member with responsibility for the delivery of waste and recycling services in Basingstoke and Deane, I am pleased to be able to present this report on the joint waste contract and optimisation of the round schedules.

"Since the commencement of the contract with Serco, just over 12 months ago, the service has gone through a period of significant change, including the introduction of a new software management system and more recently with the reorganisation of the round schedules, and changes to working practices.

"These changes were Page 2 of 17 necessary to ensure that the council delivers a reliable and efficient service to its residents.

"The crews working on the Basingstoke and Deane element of the contract empty 620,000 waste and recycling containers per month, and optimisation of the rounds involved changing all of the crew routes, as well as changing the collection days for 55,000 properties.

"Whilst in the majority of cases implementation of these changes went smoothly, there were some issues, most notably with some of the garden waste collections.

"Where issues have arisen, the council has worked closely with Serco to identify the reasons for these issues and implement solutions.

"Now that the round optimisation work has been completed, I am looking forward to continued service improvement and working in partnership with Serco to deliver new initiatives with the aim of reducing the contamination of communal bins, and increasing the councils recycling rate."

You can read the report here.