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Waste collections could be binned as New Forest District Council battles HGV driver shortages

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RUBBISH collections in the New Forest could be slashed under contingency plans to be considered by the district council’s ruling cabinet next week to cope with the shortage of HGV drivers.

The most drastic of two sets of measures would cancel all pick-ups except normal waste and recycling for six months – axing garden waste, kerbside glass and bulky waste collections, as well as the delivery of fresh black and clear sacks.

A less drastic plan would switch fortnightly garden waste collections to monthly and axe the collections of kerbside glass collection and bulky waste.

Fortnightly garden waste collections have already switched to monthly
Fortnightly garden waste collections have already switched to monthly

A cabinet report said the “core service” of collecting black and clear sacks must be maintained but it added that if the problems do not abate, the changes could continue into the long term.

If backed by the cabinet, the measures would be available if NFDC was unable to maintain current services.

As reported in the A&T, services are currently scaled back with bulky waste collection on hold and the fortnightly garden waste collections switched to monthly.

The report added there has been a higher-than-average staff turnover resulting in more vacancies, sickness absence, Covid isolations and a continued increase in the amount of waste and recycling collected.

Teams have worked longer shifts and with smaller crew sizes, bringing in staff from other services such as vehicle mechanics. Recruitment processes have also been reviewed, HGV drivers’ pay upscaled and seven staff will train to become HGV qualified.

Normal waste and recycling pick-ups would continue as usual
Normal waste and recycling pick-ups would continue as usual

But, the report conceded, the “longer-term future of collection services in the New Forest is currently being considered” as part of work on a new waste strategy to be finalised in 2022.

It added: “As soon as we are able, we will aim to bring services back up to normal service delivery. We will fully consider the impacts ceasing services is having on our residents especially the most vulnerable and prioritise services accordingly.

“The council is exploring the option of temporarily sub-contracting the bulky waste collections service, to reinstate this service for the public.”

The report stated: “If after exhausting all other measures, including redeploying staff from the wider operational services, we are still unable to maintain the core service, we will make changes to service delivery as set out as contingency step one and two.”

Cllr Steve Davies, cabinet member for environment and coastal services, added: “I am grateful for this timely update from our waste and transport team.

“It is an open and honest appraisal of an essential service and demonstrates well our contingency planning.”

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