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Councillor demands answers on waste and recycling chaos

by mikebell on 13 July, 2018

Dozens of residents have contacted local Councillor Mike Bell about missed or late waste and recycling collections in recent weeks.

In response, Councillor Bell has arranged for many missed collections to be completed, but is also raising serious concerns about the way the contract with Biffa has been managed over the last year.

In a letter to the council’s leader and executive member for waste, Councillor Bell said: “I have had numerous complaints of missed or late collections over the past year and really hoped that the recent reorganisation would help to resolve this issues.

“Almost worse than the inconsistent service, is the lack of customer service in reporting missed collections. If you visit the council website today to report missed collections, the first page gives the following information:

“Update – Wednesday 4 July
Our crews are catching up on collections that were disrupted last week – please leave your containers out and we’ll collect them as soon as we can. http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/my-services/waste/

“Almost a week later, is there no new update on what is happening? If you click further in to the missed collections link, you get a different and even older update:

“Tuesday 26 June update
Due to the delays caused by the M5 closure this morning and the hot weather, the recycling and waste crews have not been able to complete their rounds today. They’ll carry on today’s collections tomorrow. Please leave your containers out. The catch-up will continue all week including Saturday. http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/my-services/waste/missed-collections/missed-collections/

“Again, out of date, and different to the previous ‘update’. We really need to get our act together on this.

“I’ve had numerous reports of people struggling to get through to the contact centre or to register a missed collection online. When residents make reports they just get told it will be “passed on to Biffa for action”. But no feedback is provided and in some cases, multiple calls/reports seem to result in no action.

“This is just not acceptable.

“I also understand that as a “temporary” measure, recycling has not been sorted at kerbside but co-mingled to speed collection. Is this recycling then be re-sorted later or what? I am concerned that irrespective of the need to clear backlogs, this sends a very negative message to residents, many of whom have contacted me to ask why they are bothering to sort recycling if it all ends up in the same truck on collection?

“It’s a fair question!”

Councillor Bell has asked for answers on:

* What is being done to address these recurring deficiencies in the service?
* What is being done to urgently improve customer contact via telephone and web to provide accurate information and updates?
* What is being done to keep residents informed about what is happening?
* What financial penalties have been imposed on Biffa for under-performance?
* What impact this is having on our recycling rates and fly-tipping rates?

Mike added: “I appreciate that the prolonged hot weather and unforeseen incidents have an impact. But the whole point of planning strategically for services is that these kind of impacts are managed effectively. I do not see signs that this is happening or that lessons are being learned.”

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