Ombudsman again orders Thurrock to review assisted collections

The Local Government Ombudsman has ordered Thurrock council to pay a resident £350 and review its assisted bin collection service after ruling that a disabled resident had been treated “less favourably” than someone without a disability.

Thurrock operates an in-house waste collection service

In a ruling handed down on 12 February but published this week, the ombudsman explained that the resident, names as Miss Y, had repeated problems with her assisted collections.

Miss Y had said that missed collections meant rubbish was “piling up” in her home, causing a trip hazard, with crews repeatedly failing to return to collect waste.

Miss Y also said she was repeatedly unable to leaver her house as bins were left in her driveway, meaning she was unable to use her car or wheelchair as she is unable to move the bins out of the way.

The obudsman said: “We consider this affects Miss Y’s independence, dignity, and ability to manage what should be a routine part of everyday life. The failings in the service have continued to cause her worry and distress, and mean she is treated less favourably than someone without a disability.”


The ombudsman stated that Ms Y first complained about her assisted bin collections in 2020 for issues she was experiencing in 2019.

At the time she reported 15 missed collections and highlighted that her bins were not being returned correctly, even though the council had monitored her collections for a time during this period.

Ms Y reported issues again in 2021 and February 2023.

In February 2023 Ms Y reported that she was still having problems with her collections to the council who investigated her concerns.

The council told Ms Y there might be times when the in-cab reporting system for identifying assisted bin collections could not be used by the crew, if for example, there was a malfunction with the system.

It also reported that managers were now handing laminated instructions about the assisted bins to crews before their collection rounds. This would also ensure new crews had written instructions for each round. It had arranged to place stickers on all assisted bins to help crews identify them.

And there would still be times when, due to human error, bins would be missed. It said it had given Miss Y contact details for the waste team so she could report any issues directly.

The council also said it would monitor her collections for three months (see letsrecycle.com story). 


However, in April 2023, Ms Y reported the issues with her collections to the ombudsman whose investigations revealed she had further problems in July 2023 after council monitoring had ended.

In response, the council told the ombudsman that it had now provided photos and written instructions to crews to show where Miss Y’s bins should be returned, and crews would confirm to their supervisor that her bin had been returned to its correct location.

It also highlighted that a supervisor would monitor the situation for two months to check the instructions for Miss Y’s collection had been properly followed.


The ombudsman ruled that the council is required to consider the report and provide a guide to the ombudsman of the action it proposes to take within three months.

This evaluation must occur at a designated council meeting, cabinet, or a duly delegated committee of elected members, and evidence of this deliberation is mandatory.

Additionally, the council, must issue a formal apology to Miss Y for the ongoing issues with her assisted bin collection service, adhering to published guidance on effective apologies.

A symbolic payment of £350 must also be paid to compensate Miss Y for the distress caused by the service failures.

Furthermore, the council is obligated to offer Miss Y a meeting with a senior manager from the waste management team to discuss service issues and actions taken.


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