Norfolk recycling shake-up on the cards - and garden centres could have a role

Cash-counting council bosses could turn to garden centres in a bid to boost Norfolk's recycling rates.

With Norfolk County Council making �155m of cuts over three years, the authority is looking to keep down the costs of running the 20 recycling centres in the county.

The contract to run 19 of them, currently held by May Gurney, will come to an end in two years and officers have been planning what to do once that runs out.

One option considered is whether 'new approaches', as well as recycling centres, can be used to provide recycling.

Officers have carried out what is known as soft market testing to see what options might be available against a backdrop of a reduced budget.

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And one possibility which is being explored is whether the county's garden centres could become providers of recycling services - with families able to head to them to recycle green waste.

Officers are recommending that councillors agree to enter what is known as a service level agreement contract with Norfolk Environmental Waste Services (NEWS), which is part of the council's own Norse Group.

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That deal, officers say, would give a flexibility for recycling to be transferred to other 'non-traditional' providers, such as garden centres, as services develop.

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for environment and waste, said: 'Our research has shown that traditional tightly drawn contracts may not give us the type of flexibility we are looking for to help us achieve that.

'At a time when we are looking to take advantage of every possible chance to deliver better value for money services for council taxpayers wherever we can, this approach certainly looks promising.'

The council's environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel will discuss the issue when it meets tomorrow.

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