In a decision published on 12 April, the ombudsman found “repeated failures” by the Nottinghamshire-based council which meant the complainant, known only as ‘Mr D’, incurred “unnecessary time and trouble” pursuing missed collections.
Mr D first complained to the council in July 2020 after two missed collections of garden waste, for which he paid an annual subscription. The council told Mr D that lockdown had caused the service disruption.
Mr D complained again in September 2021 as his garden waste collections were still being missed and he was being given “different reasons” as to why. The reasons given included obstruction of his street, which the ombudsman said was “not correct”.
Having reported further missed collections in October and November, Mr D escalated his complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, where it was upheld.
Following the ombudsman’s decision, the council agreed to refund Mr D his garden waste collection fees for the 2020 and 2021 periods. It also accepted a recommendation to pay him £100 for “the time and trouble he incurred solely as a result of the fault by the council”.
Letsrecycle.com contacted Gedling borough council for comment.
In a report which went before Gedling’s cabinet on 16 June, the council said its waste collection service had been operating with “reduced resource” in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As such, it utilised staff who were “unfamiliar” with collection routes and reporting systems, the council says, leading to some missed collections.
The ombudsman also concluded that the council had given “false reasons” for failed collections to Mr D and had failed to escalate supervision of the route.
Representing a population of nearly 115,000, Gedling borough council had a household waste recycling rate of 32.4% in the 2020/21 financial year, the most recent available data shows.
Gedling’s fortnightly garden waste collection is a service paid for by residents.
In its report, the council says it is currently finalising a business case for the procurement of a new waste management system which will “improve the process of reporting missed bins by crews through improved in-cab reporting”.
“This should reduce the need for customers to self-report missed collections as any issues will be captured during rounds and logged on the system,” the council said.
In the interim, a review of the waste service complaints management process is also being completed to identify and secure ongoing service improvements.
And, Gedling has given additional training to crews to prevent future incidents.