Apology over bin scheme woe
A SENIOR councillor last night apologised to furious residents in a borough blighted by growing piles of uncollected rubbish sacks in its streets.Terry Sutton, cabinet member for street scene and licensing at Colchester Borough Council, last night acknowledged his responsibility for the problems, but strongly rebutted a call for his resignation.
A SENIOR councillor last night apologised to furious residents in a borough blighted by growing piles of uncollected rubbish sacks in its streets.
Terry Sutton, cabinet member for street scene and licensing at Colchester Borough Council, last night acknowledged his responsibility for the problems, but strongly rebutted a call for his resignation.
Instead, at a meeting of the council's strategic overview and scrutiny panel to discuss the chaos which started after the introduction two weeks ago of a new method of collecting recyclable and household waste, Mr Sutton put a large part of the blame on a lack of communication for the "inevitable teething problems".
The council has been inundated by an unprecedented number of calls from residents claiming they knew nothing of the changes, which require people to place different coloured sacks outside their homes on alternating weeks.
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However, Mr Sutton, who will stand down from his post at the end of June, blamed Newsquest – publishers of the Evening Gazette, the Essex County Standard and the Colchester Weekly News – who had been contracted to deliver explanatory leaflets to the borough's 66,000 homes.
He said: "We are withholding payment to Newsquest until such time as we receive satisfaction from them.
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"We know that a great many of the leaflets have been delivered correctly because we've actually seen them in our own recycling centres."
He also revealed that an investigation had been launched into how 1,000 leaflets destined for residents had ended up in a skip in Tiptree.
"People been complaining in their droves and quite rightly so - I want to offer my apologies," he added.
Christopher Arnold, chairman of the panel, questioned why Newsquest had been chosen for the task in the first place.
"I know that in Little Horkesley you haven't got a hope of getting the Evening Gazette, so people wouldn't know of any advertisements explaining the changes there either," he added.
The meeting also heard from Colchester resident Tina Dobson, who handed in a 500-signature petition protesting about the temporary closure of the Greenstead waste facility, which has been shut on "health and safety ground".
She said: "People wanting to get rid of their rubbish have had to travel to the Shrub End amenity instead. They are simply appalled by what's been happening."
Colchester's Labour leader, Tim Young, said: "I've heard horror stories about all this. These are not teething problems – this has been a full dental reconstruction that has gone wrong."
However, John Simpson, head of street services at the council said his staff had been working "tremendously" to deal with the problems but insisted that once solved the borough's residents would be proud of the new scheme.
He added: "Some of the new three compartment vehicles need time to bed down so they can function effectively."