Elmbridge borough council in Surrey today (19 June) described the state of its new waste collection contract as “wholly unacceptable”.
Contractor Amey started work on the waste and recycling contract on 3 June – Elmbridge is the first of four boroughs where the contract will be rolled out.
Last week Elmbridge stopped taking calls details about missed bins and advised that collections would be on the next scheduled day.
Today the authority issued a statement saying: “We apologise to all Elmbridge residents for the ongoing waste collection difficulties associated with the start of the new waste collection contract. We recognise that this is not the service you or we expect and it is wholly unacceptable.
“Our new contractor is not yet meeting the standards of service we require and we are working hard with Amey to ensure that they are doing all they can to improve the service.”
Joint Waste Solutions
Ferrovial Services subsidiary Amey secured the contract at the end of 2016 at a value of £100 million with it being awarded by the Joint Waste Solutions organisation set up by the four councils to run the work.
A spokesman for Joint Waste Solutions, which operates in ‘parallel’ to the Surrey Waste Partnership, told letsrecycle.com that the teething problems were “understandable during the mobilisation of the new joint collection contract in Elmbridge “
He explained: “We have been working with Amey to improve this. Additional collection crews have been brought in by Amey and staff on the ground are working very hard to adapt to the new rounds and ways of working.”
Particular problems have been reported locally with food waste collections and this was referenced by the spokesman. He noted last week: “We are now at 98% capture for refuse and 97% for recycling with a catch up crew going back to missed roads. Food waste has been a bigger challenge as it’s now being collected separately and it’s taking longer than anticipated to bed in. But it’s improving every day and we have an additional catch up crew dedicated to food waste collection.”
And, the Joint Waste Solutions spokesman added: “We’re confident that the service will continue to improve every day as the new rounds and ways of working become established.
Amey said “Changes to a contract of this size, including reorganised routes for refuse and recycling as well as food and garden waste, take time to bed in and we are confident that the service will continue to improve as the new routes and ways of working become established.”
And, the contractor said that it was bring in additional resources “daily to back up our regular routes while they become established.”
In terms of missed bin reports, Amey said that calls were being taken by the client: “Calls are being taken by the client as part of the Joint Waste Solutions contract.”
A few days ahead of today’s Elmbridge descripton of the service as “wholly unacceptable”, the borough council had appeared to be more positive. Last week it said: “We have asked Amey to work for as long as possible each day in order to fully cover the collection rounds and to deal with the backlog.
“We have also planned extensive catch-up days for the next few days when Amey hope to cover as many missed roads as possible. This should deal with most of the understandable frustrations and put the service into a more sustainable and acceptable position.”
One local resident told letsrecycle.com: “I understand there are teething problems with new contracts, but the level of communications is awful. And when you phone them up to report a missed bin, they cannot guarantee you when or if your bin will be collected.”
In September, Amey will start providing the new service to Woking borough council residents and in February Surrey Heath comes on board. This could bring waste issue to the attention of the new secretary of state for the environment, Michael Gove, who is MP for Surrey Heath.