by political editor Paul Francis
Rubbish collections for more than 200,000 residents across east Kent are to be provided by a single contractor in a move that is claimed could help keep council tax bills down.
But there could be job losses as fewer people will be needed to collect rubbish and run the service.
Plans for a super waste contract for east Kent have moved closer this week with the four authorities - Shepway, Dover, Thanet and Canterbury - agreeing to team up and share the same contractor by 2013.
Shepway and Dover will lead the way, sharing the same contractor from next year.
The scheme could lead to £1.5million being saved each year on collection costs alone, with a further £2.9million being cut from the county council's annual bill for getting rid of it.
There will also be far more kerbside recycling across the four authorities with some changes to each council's existing arrangements.
Under the agreement, every household will be guaranteed a weekly collection for their everyday food rubbish, although in order to do so, some could have to be thrown out with garden waste.
The four councils will all also provide a fortnightly collection for recycled waste and a fortnightly collection of other non-food waste, alternating with the collection for recycled material.
Canterbury and Thanet will sign up when their existing contracts end - probably by 2013.
The money saved will be shared on the basis of each district’s population while half will go to Kent County Council.
In a statement, the four councils said the new arrangements would mean more people would have a weekly collection for their food waste.
Cllr Nick Chard (Con), KCC's cabinet member for the environment, said: "This is a big step forward for people in east Kent. The bottom line is that this means less money will be spent on waste collection and disposal and bills could come down."