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Council's £4.5m bin lorries could be delayed over Brexit uncertainty

PUBLISHED: 17:08 04 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 04 November 2019

North Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: Submitted/Archant

North Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: Submitted/Archant

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A council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries - which may be delayed due to uncertainty sparked by Brexit.

North Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: PA/Antony DevlinNorth Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: PA/Antony Devlin

Councillors in north Norfolk have agreed to release £4.5m for the purchase of waste management vehicles within the next year.

But at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC)'s cabinet, councillors heard how the delivery of the new lorries could face delays due to uncertainty for vehicle firms over the UK's exit from the European Union (EU).

At the meeting, held on Monday, November 4, councillors were told the £4.5m release of capital funds was requested "to fund the purchase of vehicles to support the council's waste contract" into 2020-21, with the sum likely to be sourced from borrowing.

A budget monitoring report for 2019-20 stated: "Purchasing these vehicles remains the approach that exposes the council to the lowest risk from contractor failure. This amount is likely to come from borrowing. Whether this is internal or external borrowing will be a treasury decision taken nearer the time."

North Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: Submitted/ArchantNorth Norfolk District Council is set to spend millions of pounds on new bin lorries. Photo: Submitted/Archant

But John Rest, leader of the council's independent group, asked: "Are these vehicles going to be off the shelf? Are they going to be ready when we need them?"

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And Steve Hems, head of environmental health, said temporary vehicles would be provided if necessary, if delays caused a problem for the council.

"There is provision within the contract for contractors or suppliers to provide temporary vehicles while these vehicles are being delivered," he said.

"There would be greater certainty for vehicle providers under normal circumstances but given the current situation with leaving the EU we don't know when they will be provided.

"It is probable we would get some of the vehicles on time and some we would have to wait a little bit longer for."

Deputy council leader Eric Seward proposed the cabinet approve the £4.5m sum in principle, but delegate further scrutiny of the payment to a separate committee.

But head of legal services, Emma Duncan, told councillors that the cabinet would be setting the budget in December, and "there won't be any need for any additional delegation".

Councillors noted the budget monitoring report, including the request for £68,000 towards asset valuation, and approved the £4.5m for the waste vehicles.

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