Leading waste contractor AMEY has warned the county council that it is losing more than a million pounds a year by running Hertfordshire’s household waste and recycling centres.

The company has operated the network of 17 waste and recycling centres on behalf of the county council since 2014, as part of a contract worth around £6 million a year.

But Amey has told the council it is losing an estimated £1.4 million a year on the contract.

The firm points to a survey of waste disposal authorities that shows Hertfordshire is paying them £1.7 million below the average.

A meeting of the community safety and waste management panel on Friday (June 28) heard that council officers have been looking at ways the council may be able to “assist”.

However they are only working within existing budgets, as councillors have previously said that no “new money” should be paid to the contractor.

Officers are also working on contingency plans, in case the contract with Amey were to collapse.

Among the options being considered is the introduction of charges for materials such as tyres, soils, hardcore and plasterboard or ‘residents only permits’, to prevent people bringing waste from over the county border.

Councillors raised concerns about the idea of residents only permits.

Executive member for community safety and waste management Cllr Tery Hone said he was concerned neighbouring authorities would reciprocate.

And Cllr Joan King said she would be opposed to anything that would mean residents weren’t recycling – or were fly tipping.

Officers are also looking at a review of the ‘payment by results’ mechanism in the contract, diversion of wood to biomass and payments to the company to reflect the changes in line with National Living Wage increases.

The options will be fully considered by the panel in November, when they have been legally and financially assessed.

The committee heard that the contract “continues to provide excellent value for money” and that Amey was committed to working with the council.

However they were also told that Amey had, so far, refused to prove the extent of its losses.

Simon Aries, the council's assistant director for waste and environmental management, said: “I have no doubt that they are losing money. We have asked for the numbers, but they haven’t shared them with us just yet.”