Waste service

WASTE collections in Colchester are currently dependent on agency-supplied bin men and running at a loss of nearly £1 million, it has emerged. A wholesale review revealing the current extent of the waste collection problem and the measures needed to fix it have been highlighted in a new action plan drawn up by senior staff at Colchester Borough Council.

WASTE collections in Colchester are currently dependent on agency-supplied bin men and running at a loss of nearly £1 million, it has emerged.

A wholesale review revealing the current extent of the waste collection problem and the measures needed to fix it have been highlighted in a new action plan drawn up by senior staff at Colchester Borough Council.

The report states that more than £1.4 million extra is needed in order to meet the area's waste disposal needs.

But waste managers at the council yesterday warned that the far-reaching proposals - which include employing more than 40 new bin men and buying 12 new collection lorries - will not come into effect before the Christmas period.

And they added that whilst some measures might be brought in as soon as they are agreed others might take up to two years to come into effect.

In 2004 the council cut its waste collection team from 92 to 66 staff and, since then, the council has increasingly struggled to meet its waste collection duties.

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This year the council set a budget of £2.46 million but expects to have spent more than £3.42 million by the end of March next year.

To try and turn the situation around, the council's heads of service have asked the authority's leading politicians to stump up an extra £550,000 on employing 42 extra staff and £900,000 for the new lorries.

Nick Taylor, the council's assets and resources, admitted the borough's waste collection was currently below the standards the public should expect.

He added: “There has clearly been public dissatisfaction since the new arrangements were put into place.”

“We have got capacity problems that we inherited from the previous administration. We asked for this review rather than adding to services in a piece-meal way.”

Keith Nicholson, the council's head of street and leisure services, said the waste services team faced the combined challenge of increased recycling rates, up from 25 % to 30% in the past year, and rising amounts of rubbish created by those living in the borough which, together, had meant the council is currently dependent on agency personnel and the use of older waste lorries which were less reliable.

Mr Nicholson said a new collection system was also needed and he has put forward plans for 11 routes with three extra routes to support Colchester's recycling effort.

Gerard Oxford, is chairman of the council's finance audit scrutiny panel, which will examine the proposals in detail on November 15 before making its own recommendations to the council's cabinet, said: “The waste collection service is something which effects everyone in the borough and so it is vital that any changes are fully considered and scrutinised.”

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