Bins still not being collected one month into the new service

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The company took over bin collections for both Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge & Malling borough councils earlier this year in a joint deal worth around £3million.

Tonbridge & Malling say the ‘roll-out has not delivered the services expected’.

Urbaser has struggled with the new recycling arrangements introduced by both local authorities.

From September 30, residents in the two boroughs have been able to recycle glass and food waste as well as opt for a paid-for garden waste collection service.

This has involved the distribution of new bins while Urbaser has had to come up with new routes for the kerbside collections.

The Councils provided a six month transition period for the new waste services contract, which they said was to allow Urbaser to finalise the new arrangements.

But one month on, and residents have been complaining that bins are still getting missed, with some people saying they have had neither waste nor recycling collected since the new contract came into force.

Kerry Ward, who lives in an apartment block on Calverley Street, right in the middle of Tunbridge Wells town centre, said tenants there have not had bins emptied for the last four weeks.

She said: “We share all the bins, and since the new system started we haven’t had a single collection, so as you can imagine, the bins are just overflowing.

“We reported it to the Council twice, and even went into the Gateway to complain, and last Sunday the binmen came out and did the buildings opposite but not ours.”

She added that while the apartments have an electric gate, Urbaser has a key and the group of flats had no issue before the new waste contract started on September 30.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] has admitted that one month on, and 2.3 per cent of bins are still being missed – one in 40 of all collections.

In Tonbridge & Malling the picture is a little better with 1.2 per cent of collections being missed – around one in 80 missed collections.

This is despite Urbaser working weekends and overtime to catch up.

Both Councils Street Scene and Environment Boards have met with the waste management company to discuss the missed collections.

A number of issues have been highlighted including IT problems, a lack of training on local geography, more food waste than expected, along with breakdowns and teething issues with the new vehicles.

In a report, Robert Styles, Director of Street Scene for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council said the transition had ‘clearly been challenging’ and admitted the ‘roll-out has not delivered the services expected, particularly around issues of non-completion of rounds and missed collections.”

He said: “A number of factors have contributed to these issues including crew familiarisation with new rounds, increased waste tonnages and longer than normal tipping times at disposal sites.”

Urbaser has said it is ‘usual’ to expect higher levels of missed bins in the ‘eight to ten weeks’ after such ‘a significant change to a service’.

Chris Minnis, UK Operations Manager at Urbaser said: “As crews familiarise themselves with the rounds, the number of missed collections is declining day by day and will be back to the usual, minimal levels by the end of November.

“We can confirm that we are recruiting staff but only to reduce reliance on agency staff to build up the permanent work force, as well as cover holidays and sickness.”

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