MARCH 29 will be a significant day for Somerset – and not just because of Brexit.

That is also the day when the Somerset Waste Partnership will decide who to appoint as its new contractor for kerbside collections, as it prepares to roll out its Recycle More initiative.

The decision was previously expected to happen on March 15, but has been confirmed for two weeks later to allow “additional work” to be completed.

Due to procurement procedures, the contractor won’t be publicly named until after the local elections in May.

An update was presented to the Somerset Waste Board (SWP) – comprising representatives from all six current Somerset councils – in Taunton on Friday morning (February 15).

SWP managing director Mickey Green said in his written report: “The additional work necessary on the contractual documents means that it is no longer possible to have completed the evaluation and moderation of bids ahead of the planned March 15 waste board meeting.

“It is proposed to reschedule this meeting to March 29. At this meeting the board will be in a position to appoint a preferred bidder, exactly as was planned for the March 15 meeting.

“The identity of the preferred bidder will not be made public at that point, because we will then enter the contractual standstill period before we can award the contract and publicly announce the successful bidder, expected to be in mid-May.”

Mr Green said this decision could be taken during the run-up to the district council elections – where no new policies or contracts can be announced – because “all of the key political decisions have already been taken” and the contractor won’t be announced until after people go to the polls on May 2.

He added: “Delaying a decision until after the district council elections would realistically mean that a decision could not be taken until the June 28 board meeting, as it will take time for each partner authority to confirm its waste board members.

“Such a delay would have consequences for the mobilisation period (for example, when orders for new vehicles could be placed) and hence put the effective handover of services from Kier to a new contractor in 2020 at risk.”

The SWP has said March 29 was originally identified at the appointment date when the early stages of procurement began, with the changes in date since this time reflecting the dates of waste board meetings rather than delays in the procurement process.

A spokesman added: “We are still very much on target with this.”

Once the new contractor has been publicly announced on May 13, the chosen party will have until March 2020 to mobilise its operation, including ensuring it has enough staff and vehicles available.

The first Recycle More collections will be provided on March 30, 2020, with the initiative being rolled out in five phases over a two-year period – meaning the whole county will receive the same service by March 2022.