New Forest District Council leader Cllr Edward Heron apologises as waste services disruption likely to 'continue for some time'
THERE will be continued disruption to New Forest District Council’s waste and recycling services because of the ongoing driver disruption.
Apologising to residents and asking them for patience, NFDC leader Cllr Edward Heron told Monday night’s full council meeting staff were "working extremely hard in difficult circumstances".
But he conceded: "This disruption will continue for some time with a bigger impact on glass collections. Priority will continue to be first collecting black and clear sack waste, then four weekly garden waste, and then glass collections."
Services were first hit in July, when NFDC had to temporarily pause the garden waste service and blamed the national HGV driver shortage.
It was reinstated earlier last month on a four-weekly collection schedule. Meanwhile, NFDC has also upscaled the pay offered to HGV drivers in a bid to attract candidates to its unfilled roles.
Currently, general waste and recycling services are continuing as normal, as is the glass service – although the black box collection may be cancelled at short notice in some areas, while sack deliveries are running behind schedule. However, the bulky waste collection is currently suspended.
Cllr Heron said the council would press on with its recruitment drive and revealed a number of internal staff had come forward and inquired about undertaking HGV driver training.
"Managers and supervisors in the service are doing all they can to alleviate pressures on the service, working with staff from other council-wide services and agency staff and recruiting where they can to fill driver vacancies," Cllr Heron assured.
"They are having to respond day by day, assessing the staffing levels available, and rightly prioritising collecting the black and clear sack waste.
"This has meant some of our services are experiencing disruption – garden waste was temporarily paused, some glass collections have not taken place, bulky waste is currently suspended, and the delivery of sacks is behind schedule.
"We will keep working towards the most effective waste collection service for our community with the resources we currently have available to us.
"HGV driver vacancies will continue to be recruited for and we will review our current service arrangement at the cabinet meeting on 3rd November 2021," he added.
Cllr Heron continued: "I would ask our residents and community to follow our updates on the website and social media and we ask again for forbearance.
"We apologise for the current disruption to our collection services but want to assure the public that whilst we respond to national challenges, we are working on developing our services for the better."