Rubbish mounts again as scheme falters

A NEW system of rubbish collection and recycling is still failing more than a month after its introduction by a borough council.Green waste, in white recyclable bags, and black bin bags were stacking up yesterday in streets around Colchester as crews fell behind in their collections.

A NEW system of rubbish collection and recycling is still failing more than a month after its introduction by a borough council.

Green waste, in white recyclable bags, and black bin bags were stacking up yesterday in streets around Colchester as crews fell behind in their collections.

Despite claims from officials at the town hall that Colchester's refuse service was "running well", yesterday the councillor in charge of the scheme admitted it still faced major problems.

Cabinet member Terry Sutton – whose portfolio includes waste and recycling - directly contradicted the council's head of street services, John Simpson, when he told the EADT: "It is not running well. We have still not got it right because of unexpected additional quantities."

He added that he recognised the refuse service over the bank holiday weekend and into this week had not been up to scratch.

"We knew there would be excessive refuse put out. We put extra crews on. But it has still overtaken us.

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"However, what I can say is that is not nearly as bad as the last bank holiday weekend."

The council had previously claimed "teething problems" were responsible for delays in collecting refuse after the introduction of new compartmentalised rubbish trucks running on new routes.

The changes require people to place different coloured sacks outside their homes on alternating weeks.

In the immediate aftermath of the scheme's introduction at the end of April residents reported collections happening more than two weeks late, with rubbish piling up outside their properties.

But yesterday a number of residents told the EADT that waste which should have been collected on Tuesday – under a special timetable designed to cope with the bank holiday - had still not been picked up yesterday.

Yesterday Mr Sutton conceded: "I suppose people could say it's excuse after excuse after excuse. We have reorganised the crew structure again this week. But we are being caught by the volume that is coming out."

He added that specific problems had created difficulties. "All out green waste currently has to go to Ipswich, because Essex County Council has refused to take much of it at its Birch disposal site.

"They say we can only put 175 tonnes of waste there. At the last bank holiday we were dealing with 800 tonnes. We are very frustrated with the county council's stand, but there's nothing we can immediately do.

"It took almost a four hour turnaround for one of our drivers to do the Ipswich run. If we could use Birch it would take us less than 30 minutes.

"I realise it is not working properly at the moment. However, things are slowly being put right."

Yesterday a senior source at the council, who asked to remain anonymous, also said he believed there was a degree of resentment among the crews of refuse collectors themselves, who, the source claimed, were unhappy about the new system.

This had led to slower than expected collection times, a degree of absenteeism on specific dates and confusion about which routes had actually been cleared.

However Mr Simpson insisted yesterday that the new service was a success.

He declined to speak directly to the EADT, but said in a statement: "On the whole the refuse and recycling service is running well.

"However, we are aware that there have been some backlogs due to 20% extra refuse being left out following the bank holiday period.

"We are also continuing to collect unprecedented amounts of recyclables.

"I apologise for any inconvenience caused to residents and will ensure our crews collect in these hotspot areas as soon as possible."

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