THE director of the controversial Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) has been suspended from his £70,000 post and is facing disciplinary action, it has been confirmed.

Steve Burdis, who oversees the DWP, has been removed from his position on the eve of a key report being published next Wednesday, (Mar 11) which will highlight failings with the partnership.

The DWP, a partnership of seven councils, first sparked concern when it reported an overspend of £2.8m, including more than £1m for hire vehicles.

Members of the seven councils will meet next Wednesday to discuss an urgent improvement plan for the DWP. They will be told by Dorset County Council monitoring officer Jonathan Mair that the DWP hired vehicles to the value of £1.5m without a proper tendering process. They will also  hear that although the vehicles were covered by the council's insurance policy, the details of some of them had not been passed on for inclusion on the national database of insured vehicles.

The county council has now launched a formal, independently-led investigation into the issues raised. It stressed that Mr Burdis’ temporary suspension did not prejudice the outcome of these procedures, which will include an internal audit of vehicle hire by the South West Audit Partnership, an efficiency review, and a fundamental review of the DWP.

Temporary leadership will be provided by Mike Harries, the county council’s director for environment and economy and chair of the DWP management board and Steve Mackenzie, chief executive of Purbeck District Council.

The councils formed the partnership in 2011 to join up waste services across Dorset. There have been some notable successes, including an increase in recycling, a reduction in landfill waste and enhanced customer satisfaction.

But while the service achieved its savings targets of at least £1.3m a year in the first three years, it fell short this year. Late last year there were problems with the rollout of the service for some households in Weymouth and Portland, the reported overspend and an increase in next year’s budget by £2.9m to £32.5m.

  • CHRISTCHURCH council leader Ray Nottage has described the Dorset Waste Partnership’s £2.7million overspend as a “grave situation”.

Speaking at a full council meeting after Dorset councils were warned they may have to fork out extra cash to prop up the partnership, Cllr Nottage said: “This is a grave situation and needs firm, swift action for correction.

“I am assured that the most pressing recommendations have already been implemented.”

He added: “The DWP has delivered revenue savings for this council over the last four years and customer satisfaction remains high.

“Please be assured the chief executive (David McIntosh) and I are giving this the highest priority.”

Christchurch’s share of the 2014/15 DWP revenue budget was originally set at £1.17m.

The authority will have to pay £108,500 of the overspend amount.