10:02AM, Tuesday 08 September 2020
The return to a weekly bin day has had a few ‘teething problems’. Ref:104253-5
Residents and councillors alike have criticised hit-and-miss bin collections in the borough which have left some residents with rotting, maggot-filled bins for weeks on end.
Since reintroducing weekly bin collections, residents across the borough have complained that SERCO, the waste collection contractors for the council, have not done their jobs properly
Roy Wakelin is 82 years old and disabled. He lives on Evenlode, a street where bins have been left for five weeks, with around 40 of them now overflowing.
“I’ve now got a job to get my walker through the side gate to get out,” he said. “We’re frightened they’ll be rats coming soon.”
Mary Cooper lives in a cluster of houses off Burchetts Green Road that were left without waste collection for three weeks. The food bins became so bad, they generated maggots.
“That’s totally unhealthy,” said Mary. “Everybody kept saying something was going to happen the next day, and nothing ever did.”
“The Royal Borough wants to cease their contract [with SERCO] if they can’t do their job properly,” she said.
“‘Teething problems’ are one thing, but not when it goes on for three weeks. That’s not ‘teething problems’."
Royal Borough councillors held a meeting with SERCO on Wednesday, September 2 to press the matter.
“We made it quite clear to them that we would enforce the financial penalties that are in the contract,” said Councillor David Coppinger (Con, Bray), the new lead member for environmental services.
“They have let us down and it will be put right. I have met the new management and I have no question whatsoever with their ability to do it.”
However, Councillor Simon Werner, leader of the Royal Borough's Liberal Democrats, said that the council has ‘done this to themselves’.
“When they first signed the contract, [the council] were very proud of the fact that they saved a bit of money,” said Cllr Werner.
“Now we can see what the effect is of going for the cheapest bid instead of the best bid.”
Cllr Coppinger has countered that he is ‘completely satisfied’ that both the officers’ recommendations and cabinet approval for switching to SERCO were thorough and correct.
He accepted that ‘where we are at the moment is totally unacceptable.’
“I do understand every single resident’s concern and I totally empathise with them," he said.
Cllr Coppinger added that his number one objective is to eliminate all residents’ waste collections that are over two weeks old. He was confident that this would be completed this week.
The next objective is to make sure every resident has their waste collected on the day they expect it.
In addition, SERCO laid on an extra four lorries and worked on Saturday and Sunday to catch up on missed collections.
Katy Bassett, SERCO‘s regional director for environmental services, said: “We have seen significant operational challenges during the COVID crisis, including a 41 per cent increase in household waste and recycling at its peak.
“We fully recognise the problems with this new service and we are urgently working on a further improvement plan.”
At the Communities Overview and Scrutiny panel meeting on Thursday, Councillor Gurpreet Bhangra (Con, Boyn Hill) asked that the SERCO contract be examined in an extraordinary meeting of the council.
The chairman and fellow panel members agreed that this matter warranted an urgent meeting in September or early October.
Meanwhile, the Royal Borough is urging every resident whose bins have not been collected to report every incident online as soon as possible at https://tinyurl.com/y2a6q34t
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