We’re sorry’, says borough council after months of missed waste collections

By Phil Stoneham   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 28th April 2022 9:30 am
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West Devon Borough Council waste collection vehicle
West Devon Borough Council waste collection vehicle (West Devon Borough Council )

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A COUNCIL chief has made a heartfelt apology to West Devon residents after months of missed waste collections across the area.

West Devon Borough Council said the service had suffered ‘significant disruption’ due to a shortage of lorry drivers and sickness over the Bank Holiday weekend.

And Cllr Lynn Daniel, the authority’s lead member for the natural environment, personally apologised to affected residents in an open letter and insisted they were trying to solve the problem.

The apology comes days after Tavistock Town Council representatives slammed the ‘lottery’ of the collection service and the authority’s excuse that covid and a shortage of drivers was responsible.

Town councillors have urged the borough council to focus on the problem amid concerns that uncollected waste could become a health hazard for residents during the summer months.

West Devon Borough Council has been clobbered on two fronts. First, there was Brexit in January 2020, while two months later, there was Covid-19.

Two years later, the borough council says their waste collection service is still struggling with the fall-out from both events, a shortage of drivers nationally because those from abroad who would have worked here can’t and, up until recently, those who were working here found themselves going down like flies with the bug.

Not two weeks ago, Tavistock Town councillors decided enough was enough and urged their borough partners to sort the problem out.

Councillors said that covid and the UK shortage of drivers had been used as a reason for the missing of thousands of collections over a period of getting up for 24 months - and those excuses were starting to wear thin.

Less than a fortnight after Tavistock councillors criticised the handling of the situation, Cllr Daniel issued an apology in an open letter to West Devon residents.

It is believed FCC were unable to send out five recycling rounds on April 16, affecting all areas across West Devon, while staff absences are believed to be on average five to ten a day for loaders and drivers, although there are no current Covid cases.

In her open letter to residents (see right), Cllr Daniel said the council was ‘extremely sorry’ that high numbers of them were being affected by disruptions to the service and said she understood why people were frustrated.

She said: ‘This is not the high quality of service you quite rightly expect and we are working closely with our contractor FCC to improve things as quickly as we can.

‘High numbers of FCC staff have been absent, which has resulted in some of our rounds being affected.

‘We completely understand why our residents are frustrated, but it has not been easy for FCC to get agency staff to cover for sickness and they continue to face challenges with recruitment and agency cover.

‘The FCC crews are working exceptionally hard to minimise the impact on collections and the team have managed to revisit the majority of missed collections the next day. However, if your waste has not been collected within two working days, please take it back in and re-present it on your next collection day.’

The open letter to residents

Dear Resident,

We are extremely sorry that high numbers of properties are being affected by disruptions to your Recycling and Waste service at the moment.

This is not the high quality of service you quite rightly expect and we are working closely with our contractor FCC to improve things as quickly as we can. High numbers of FCC staff have been absent, which has resulted in some of our rounds being affected.

We completely understand why our residents are frustrated, but it has not been easy for FCC to get agency staff to cover for sickness and they continue to face challenges with recruitment and agency cover.

The FCC crews are working exceptionally hard to minimise the impact on collections and the team have managed to revisit the majority of missed collections the next day. However, if your waste has not been collected within two working days, please take it back in and represent it on your next collection day.

Collections have also been impacted by the recent Bank Holidays; last Saturday 16 April (the Good Friday catch-up) resulted in significant disruption to recycling collections.

Please remember that these are running one day later than normal up until Saturday 23 April.

Monday 25 – Friday 29 April – usual service resumes

Bank Holiday – Monday 2 May

Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 May – service runs one day later than usual

Monday 9 May – usual service resumes

If you do experience a missed collection, please use our website to let us know, that way we can ensure that we and FCC are fully aware of all of our residents’ issues.

Thank you for your patience.

Lynn Daniel

Lead Member for Environment

West Devon Borough Council

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