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Council chief explains why ‘thousands’ of bins have gone unemptied after recycling changes

15 Jun 2024 5 minute read
The council’s bin wagons are also struggling to get down Fron Bache, Llangollen, say residents unhappy with the council’s new recycling scheme.

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

The chief executive of a council which introduced a new recycling system this month has admitted it “underestimated” the time bin and recycling rounds would take as “thousands” of collections were missed in the last two weeks.

Denbighshire Council’s Chief exec Graham Boase has now apologised to residents on behalf of the council and said the authority was doing all it could to ensure bins are emptied.

Mr Boase denied Denbighshire had a rat problem and maintained the county’s new Trolibocs system was the right thing to do, as the recycling scheme would see costs cut and funds raised.

He also defended complaints from councillors that Denbighshire’s head of recycling and the councillor responsible for the portfolio were both on holiday during the first week of the rollout.

The council introduced its new Trolibocs system, which collects paper, plastic, metal, food cartons, and glass, on June 3.

Denbighshire now expects residents to separate the items themselves.

Non-recyclable ‘black bin’ collections are now every four weeks as opposed to the old two-week system whilst a weighted hessian bag is used for cardboard.

Issues

Mr Boase said: “The first thing I want to do is apologise to the residents of Denbighshire who have had missed collections.

“In rolling out our new system, we’ve encountered some issues and problems, and that has resulted in people having missed collections. For that I apologise. I understand the concern and upset that causes the residents. At the same time, we care as well as staff and managers, and we want to get it right. It is a heartfelt and sincere apology for the upset and concern we’ve caused for not collecting.

“We haven’t got exact figures, but if we’ve got 43,000 households to collect from, so the vast majority have had their collection in accordance with the collection timetable, but when you get into the 5% or 10% that haven’t – and I don’t know the exact figures, but let’s use that as an example – 5% or 10% of 43,000, you are getting into large numbers of properties, aren’t you?

“So the majority has gone well, but we’ve had some issues with the minority. But we accept it is a sizable minority that runs into thousands of households that haven’t had their waste collected.”

Rats

When asked if reports of rats had increased, Mr Boase said they had not.

“Absolutely, categorically, no, we do not have problems with rats,” said Mr Boase.

“We are receiving no more reports of rats now than any other reports of rats periodically. We do not regret the decision to roll this out. This new system is exactly the right thing to do.”

He added: “The issue with the new system is that – when you are rolling out to 43,000 houses, in the diversity of rural areas such as down in the south of the county compared to some of the urban areas in the north – the reason we’ve missed collections is some of the rounds have taken longer than we thought they were going to take.

“That is in part because of the extra recycling our residents have done. So the wagons have filled up perhaps more than they were going to, which means they have to return to the depot to unload to go back out again.

“We’ve probably underestimated the time it takes to do various rounds. There have been a couple of other minor issues, but that is the predominant issue. We don’t regret it. It is the right thing to do. Separating our recycling materials will result in a far better product that we can sell, and we will sell it because it is a higher grade of recycling material with value.”

Mr Boase thanked the recycling staff on the ground who he said were doing a fantastic job and was concerned negative social media activity didn’t impact their morale.

Holidays

The chief executive also responded to criticism that the head of the recycling service and the cabinet member responsible for recycling, Cllr Barry Mellor, were both away on holiday during the first week of the rollout.

Mr Boase explained both the head of service and the cabinet member had booked ‘longstanding leave’ arranged long before the rollout occurred – with the head of service being off to attend a D-Day remembrance service.

Ruthin councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts said he was glad the chief executive had apologised but claimed unemptied bins and uncollected recycling was affecting the mental health of Denbighshire residents.

“I’m glad that the chief exec has apologised for the massive issues there has been with the bins over the last two weeks,” said Cllr Roberts.

“I’m still concerned that I have houses in Ruthin that have not had a collection for two weeks, and I urge they make this a priority. I have every sympathy with the workers on the ground with the work they are doing in very difficult circumstances, and I sincerely hope they will be able to rectify the situation as soon as possible.”

He added: “I haven’t been involved in the planning personally, but at the end of the day, you can only measure on results, and we’ve gone from a situation where all the bins in Denbighshire were being emptied consistently, and they haven’t been now. That’s the evidence we’ve got before us.

“I urge the council to pull out all stops because the mental health of certain people not having their bins collected is affecting them, and it is really important that Denbighshire and the leadership team get this right.”


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Daw
Daw
1 month ago

Well it’s good that they have finally described at least one of the issues with the roll out, but I’m surprised they didn’t anticipate this! Afterall they did take on 25 new staff. So more staff more cost, more trips, more cost,working longer hours and more days more cost, so where are these savings coming from. I’m anticipating another huge tax rise to cover the costs if this very costly system, I think its time to move out of Denbighshire and Wales if other counties follow suit.

Euog
Euog
1 month ago

100% the council have done something to upset the binmen.

Old Hob
Old Hob
1 month ago
Reply to  Euog

Possibly the reduction in crew numbers per round plus increased work and no increase in minimum wage pay may have something to do with it.

William robson
William robson
29 days ago
Reply to  Euog

Expect them to do their jobs, collecting rubbish.

Old Hob
Old Hob
1 month ago

Ok, so you reduce the number in each collection team to 2, and increase the workload per team and it doesn’t occur to you this might cause a problem?

Old Hob
Old Hob
1 month ago

In addition, each kerbside lorry has separate compartments. If one is full the crew must leave the round to empty it, even if there is space in the others.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

Rushed, ill thought out and expensive !
Usual DCC disaster im afraid…..Mr B and the Lab:Plaid;Lib Coalition must buck up thrir ideas. The Independent, Tory and Green opposition were just as bad .

William robson
William robson
29 days ago

These are highly paid professionals in jobs for life who keep getting it wrong. They need to remember the councils are monopolies , we cannot swap suppliers. They must get it right first. Nepotism and incompetence systemic from top to bottom. Remove the job for life and hold them accountable CEO downwards , are CEO’s worth the money they are paid. The head of the council where i live is more concerned with the work life balance but the council tax payers just have suck it up and pay through the nose for a third rate services and fob the… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
29 days ago

Change working practices and inevitably the staff actually doing the work will be slowed up as they adjust to the changes. Especially as, Instead of just having to roll one single bin to the grab and ensuring that it empties, they now have to empty four different containers into four different boxes on the van – not counting the old batteries and redundant small electrical appliances that residents can now leave out with their bins. Clearly the new way will take longer than the old, and you’d think that would have been anticipated. Having said that, I can see that… Read more »

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