A TROUBLED waste collection company which received a high number of complaints has been awarded a new contract worth more than £4.5 million per year with Winchester City Council.

The authority has given Biffa an eight-year contract for household waste collections, claiming that the firm’s bid “provided best value for money along with including a package of service improvements”.

The duration of the contract is for an initial eight years with the option to extend for a further eight. Over the course of 16 years, its total value was put at £75 million, according to a government procurement website.

The announcement follows a string of complaints from residents after a backlog of rubbish in a number of areas across Winchester and East Hampshire.

Biffa had also experienced vehicle breakdowns because of its ageing fleet and problems with staff retention and high sickness rates. The company had been using a high number of agency staff who were unfamiliar with the rounds.

Despite the raft of issues, council chiefs have said that it is committed to working with Biffa to ensure collections are carried out on time across the district, and to reduce the number of missed bins.

Cllr Martin Tod, cabinet member for service quality and transformation, said: “A big priority for our bin service has been to recycle more and cut the number of missed bins - and Biffa and the people working for Biffa have been really good partners in making that happen. While we won’t be happy until no bins are missed, the latest figures show we’ve made really good progress - much better than the same time last year. And we’ve got plans to improve the service even further.

“Biffa won the new contract after a rigorous tender process that ranked bidders by value and quality standards. Under the new contract, routes will be covered by staff who already know the area well. It will provide a enhanced service, including a new recycling collection for small electric items, and the use of greener vehicles in line with our goals to reduce carbon emissions.”

The new contract will see the introduction of a collection service for small electrical items such as unwanted toasters, kettles or clocks for recycling, and a glass collection offering.

The city council has sought to tackle the problem of Biffa’s vehicles with the company set to use a new fleet which will replace older lorries with Euro6 compliant vehicles which emit lower levels of harmful exhaust pollutants, helping to reduce carbon emissions and deliver cleaner air.

There will also be greater use of narrower vehicles to improve access in smaller streets and reduce congestion on busy roads.

And the lorries will have new technology on board that will provide real-time information to alert the depot to issues and improve collection rates and support ongoing improvements to collection reliability.

In light of the new contract the council has said that performance of the current service is improving month-on-month with issues are identified and tracked on a daily basis to help resolve problems quickly.

Simon Baddeley, the council’s commercial director of municipal division, said: “We are thrilled to be awarded the new contract for Winchester City Council and to continue our relationship with them. We look forward to working together to develop the services for residents.”

Collections are not expected to change – with an alternate weekly collection of household waste and recycling. Kerbside glass recycling collection is planned to be monthly and there is will be fortnightly garden waste collection.

The assisted collection service will remain, as will collections of bulky and clinical waste.

The contract is expected to come into force in September this year.