Shortage of lorry drivers due to Brexit and Covid blamed for waste collection woes
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A shortage of lorry drivers due to Brexit and Covid has been partly blamed for delays to garden waste collections in Cardiff.
The delays have continued into August as the council said the situation is “extremely difficult”. They have issued a statement explaining the reasons behind the delays to the “non-essential” service.
Brexit, drivers retiring and Covid-19 are some of the main causes of the lorry driver shortage across the UK, according to the Road Haulage Association, with European drivers leaving the country and lockdown restrictions causing long delays to new drivers getting a licence.
A council spokesman said: “The national shortage of HGV drivers within the UK has meant we have been unable to cover driver sickness absences with agency staff as we would ordinarily do, so we are currently operating with a significantly-reduced workforce.”
The council added that they “like many others across the UK” are “continuing to face challenges collecting garden waste due to staff availability, especially the availability of Class 2 HGV drivers”.
“Our crews have worked continuously throughout the pandemic with limited opportunity to take any annual leave. With restrictions being eased within the UK and a lesser requirement to isolate when returning from foreign holidays, crews are looking for the opportunity to take a break,” they said.
In Cardiff, food waste, general waste and recycling is taking priority over garden waste. Residents are being asked to leave their garden waste by the kerb until it is collected, which could be several days after scheduled collection days.
Last month opposition councillors claimed the council had a “miserable record of failure” on bin collections, and the problems are more widespread than just garden waste. The Labour cabinet denied this and said overall collections have improved since taking office in 2012.
In its latest statement, the council admitted the inconvenience the delays are causing, and said garden waste would be collected “as soon as we can”.
The spokesman added: “Maintaining a full frontline service remains extremely difficult and, because of this, we are having to prioritise the collection of food waste, general waste and recyclables over garden waste at this time.
“We appreciate the inconvenience this will cause some residents, but we want you to know we haven’t forgotten you. While garden waste collection is a non-essential service, and one which other councils experiencing the same difficulties have stopped, here in Cardiff we are working on unscheduled collection days to collect your garden waste. Unfortunately there will be some delays which may be longer than we would have wished for.
“Our recycling centres at Bessemer Road and Lamby Way are fully operational and will accept garden waste. We want you to know we are aware of all these missed garden collections and that we will collect your garden waste as soon as we can.
“We ask residents to leave their garden waste presented on the kerbside until it is collected and we would like to thank residents for their patience during this challenging time.”