CIVIC chiefs have agreed a temporary deal to cover bin collections in Winchester following the end of an eight-year partnership.

From April, Winchester City Council will stay with firm Biffa, whom the council had used when in partnership with East Hampshire District Council (EHDC).

The deal, announced by portfolio holder for environment Cllr Jan Warwick, will see services maintained while civic chiefs seek a long-term arrangement.

However, because of its short nature the new deal will mean more of taxpayers money will have to be spent.

Cllr Warwick said: "We will be undertaking a procurement process where we will be looking at an eight-year fixed price agreement with a provider and the very best deal for taxpayers.

"The extension for one year will cost the council more money due to its short time span and because it involves the new extra kerbside glass collection initiative that has proved so popular with residents.

"However, we have undertaken comparisons with other authorities and what they pay for waste services, and discovered the revised one-year extension price will put us at mid-point cost wise."

Cllr Warwick said despite the increased cost, there were "many positives" to the temporary deal, including being able to "work with refuse teams who know the area and who can implement our kerbside glass collections smoothly".

She also addressed rumours over who ditched who in the current partnership. She said: "It was the city council’s decision not to proceed with a joint venture with East Hampshire, who has gone into partnership with Havant Borough Council.

"The fact is the legal advice on this issue was crystal clear. East Hampshire’s choice of a joint venture was never an option for us without a procurement exercise. With or without a partnership, we would simply have to undertake a procurement exercise in the next 12 months anyway because the contract with Biffa was ending in 2019.

That appears to contradict a statement released by EHDC in September, which said: "Winchester City Council and East Hampshire District Council have enjoyed eight successful years working in partnership with Biffa and ID Verde to provide waste collection and environmental services.

"Both councils have carried out a joint, in-depth review of the current contract to determine how best to move forward after the contract ends in September 2019. At the time it was signed the partnership was ground-breaking and saved the tax payers more than a million pounds, but the outcome of the review revealed that it would be beneficial for both councils to pursue alternative options."

Responding to the news, opposition Lib Dem councillors said: "We’d have had doorstep glass collections in Winchester seven years ago if the Conservative Party hadn’t voted to block Lib Dem plans in 2011 – so it’s a bit rich of them to claim this as a great achievement when they’re the reason we haven’t had doorstep glass collections.

"Most of Hampshire has had doorstep glass recycling for years – we’re still playing catch-up. Now we need to get a move on and introduce food waste recycling – and not wait for a Government to impose it on us.

"There are also real questions about the price we’re going to pay for the Conservatives’ botched contract negotiations. They need to come clean with the public about the cost we’re going to pay for this contract extension – and how much being dumped from the shared contract by East Hampshire is going to cost us."

The deal was agreed by Winchester City Council's Conservative-run cabinet last week following an announcement on the government's waste strategy, announced by environment secretary Michael Gove.

A consultation is currently running on the strategy, which includes Ensuring producers cover recycling costs, weekly collections of food waste and a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers.

Cllr Warwick said: "I am pleased to say this cabinet paper (outlining the deal) is closely linked with Defra's (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) strategy and we will be responding positively to the consultation."