Bexley Council have switched their bin collection providers with a new 10-year-old deal, saying farewell to Serco after a problematic few years.

Countrystyle Recycling have been chosen as the borough's new waste and recycling contractor after a "detailed procurement exercise," taking over from outsourcing giants Serco in October this year.

The council say the agreement will also "substantially increase the investment made in these key services."

Under the contract, Countrystyle will collect general, recycling and food waste from around 99,170 properties, and deliver the material either directly to Cory Riverside’s Belvedere Energy from Waste plant or to the Council’s Thames Road waste transfer station, which is already operated by Countrystyle.

In a statement, Cllr Peter Craske, council lead for places, thanked Serco for their work over many years.

"They have played a key role in helping Bexley be the number one Borough in London for recycling for the last decade and a half.

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"From October, we will deliver Bexley’s waste and recycling collections, street cleaning, gully cleansing and winter maintenance work through a new partnership with Countrystyle Recycling.

"Countrystyle are already doing great work managing our reuse and recycling centres and waste transfer station and they are a locally based business with huge ambition.

"We look forward to working with them to deliver a high-quality service for all of Bexley’s residents."

Chris Howard, managing director at Countryside Recycling, said they were "absolutely delighted" to be working with the council delivering their waste and recycling collections.

The company has been in charge of the borough's recycling centres since 2018, and says they want to help Bexley be the best borough for recycling, a title it has held for 16 years in succession, recording a 54% recycling rate in 2019/20.

The contract will begin on 4 October 2021 and will run for 10 years.

As part of the contract requirement, the Council stipulated that all staff should receive the London Living Wage as a minimum.

Last month Unite the union urged Bexley Council to think closely about whether to award a new contract to Serco after "waste services in disarray, dismal industrial relations and a poor service to residents."

Late collections and delays in bin collections saw regular complaints from residents in recent years, although the pandemic added to many of these issues.

Relations between Serco and the workers who belong to the Unite union have collapsed in recent months, with around 140 staff members preparing to vote on strike action.

Bexley residents were warned last month to prepare for a 'summer of stink' ahead of the strikes, which were driven by pay and working conditions.

Union Unite say the workers are furious following a "pathetic" 1.5% payrise offer after battling through successive lockdowns to keep the service running at risk to themselves and their families.

The refuse workers say they are paid less than their counterparts in other boroughs and are frustrated at the pay offer, the removal of industrial sickness benefits and Serco's alleged refusal to handover years of backpay over to nearly 50 staff.

On July 12, strike action begun, running through to July 26, with Unite delivering on the 'summer of stink' promised.

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said back in June that "unless Serco changes tack, Bexley residents could be facing the prospect of a summer stink as rubbish goes uncollected."

"Serco has failed for half a decade to include refuse staff on a stipulated pay progression scale. The situation has led to instances of refuse truck drivers being on the same pay scale as street sweepers, with some staff being owed thousands in back wages," Unite said.

Responding, Serco said they found Unite's decision "extremely disappointing," and have asked the union to continue meaningful discussions.