IN times of a financial squeeze, there is always pressure on councils to outsource major public services.

The justification often is that the private sector can do the job better and more cheaply.

Yet Barrow Borough Council’s contract with FCC Environment seems to lurch from one crisis to another.

Despite success in some areas, it now appears that a current stand-off over recycling credits could well end up doing the public purse more harm than good.

The contract is more than two years old now which should have provided a reasonable amount of time for any handover problems to be ironed out.

But it is also too simplistic to think that providing a service to more than 50,000 homes is merely a matter of turning up on a given day, collecting the rubbish and getting rid of it.

These days, emptying the bins is far from straight forward. There are recycling targets to be met, different homes require different services, there is pressure to cut the amount of waste sent to landfill, and how do you legislate for Joe Public wandering along a back street and ‘contaminating’ a bin that doesn’t belong to him? So far, FCC Environment has yet to go public with its view of the arrangements.

With five years left to run on this contract, it is hoped that all sides still have time to resolve the problems. The state of Barrow’s streets depends on it.