The company that collects waste in the Moorlands ran up nearly £400,00 in extra costs over the pandemic, its latest annual report has revealed.
Alliance Environmental Services said that during 2020/21 and 20221/22 covid measures led to increased costs for both the company and its main customers – High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands district councils – of £32,000 in 2019/20, a further £305,000 in 2020/21 and £70,000 in 2021/22. Alliance is part owned by the two councils so they – and ultimatetly council tax payers – covered the costs.
There was better news in the annual report for for the year ended 31st March, as both Staffordshire Moorlands (57.7%) and High Peak (50.8%) improved their recycling statistics in 2020/21, reflecting the change to mixed collections and educational activities targeting residents with messaging around waste minimisation.
Said the report: “This performance is impressive given the fluctuations in kerbside waste tonnages associated with residents spending more time at home and a prolonged switch to home working for many.
“This stripped waste from trade waste rounds and moved it to household kerbside collections.”
Alliance said it maintained its kerbside waste collections throughout 2021/22 despite “unprecedented levels” of demand and pandemic related resourcing pressures.
The company also saw pandemic challenges exacerbated by a national shortage of HGV drivers and testing facilities to support new HGV drivers, and general labour shortages.
Alliance parent company Ansa is mitigating resourcing risks by a “grow your own model”, which includes sponsoring employees to undertake the HGV qualification and offering step-up training for new team leaders. Alliance itself offers an apprenticeship programme.
The company said it continued to perform strongly in its fourth year of trading, recording a £81,000 profit. This was down from 2021’s £253,000 and lower than targeted (£182,000) due to the board agreeing to pay staff more in March 2022.
Alliance was incorporated in 2017 and started trading in August 2017, following the transfer of waste and fleet employees from Veolia UK and High Peak borough council. From July 2018, the company expanded across the Moorlands, with employees transferring across from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
More employee transfers went ahead in April 2020 when staff involved in street cleansing, and grounds and parks employees moved from to the company.
Turnover is mainly derived from a contracted management fee for services provided to High Peak and Staffordshire Moorlands, supplemented by income from the sale or processing of recyclable materials, and fleet workshop services.
Allience is working with Ansa, Staffordshire Moorlands, High Peak and the Energy Savings Trust to explore green fleet options as part of working towards becoming carbon neutral.
Electric vehicle trials have taken place but issues remain with range, said the report.
As an alternative, trials began in October 2021 of hydrotreated vegetable oil as a low tailpipe emission fuel. This was more successful and will will be rolled out in phases across the the company fleet. A “marginal” rise in costs will be compensated for by the associated carbon reductions.
As at 31st March, Alliance employed 186 people, 86% of them living within Derbyshire and Staffordshire borders.
The company turnover was up slightly, from £10.3m to £11.6m, with overheads up to £8.9m from £8.6m, which after increased administrative expenses (nearly dounble at £2.5m) left the operating profit down to £102,00 from £260,00. The company pays out £4.5m in wages and salaries. No directors received remuneration from the company during the year.
Alliance Environmental Services ownership comprises 75% holding by Ansa Environmental Services, owned by Cheshire East Council, with the 25% minority interest remaining held equally by High Peak Borough and Staffordshire Moorlands.
Company chairman Arthur Moran said: “Once again, Alliance responded with agility to the resource pressures, waste tonnage fluctuations and supplier difficulties associated with the pandemic, lifting of restrictions, and coping with the built-up demand within the UK economy.
“At a time when there were widespread reports of other councils standing down services, (we) maintained core services despite unprecedented challenges and resourcing pressures.
“Our recycling performance was very strong, exceeding the national average and making good progress on national targets.
“This is a credit to how hard the teams worked in collecting waste, procuring supply chain partners and educating residents on waste minimisation.
“Our success is totally attributable to the commitment and dedication of our employees and on behalf of all board members, I am truly grateful for their contribution.”