It’s been claimed problems over missed waste collections are due to South Holland District Council’s use of a new computer system.
The authority has said it continually monitors the refuse collection routes and will implement further changes if required. It made the first changes to collections in ten years back in October.
Since then there’s been a host of complaints that waste bags have not been collected when they should with its PRIDE team being seconded to help out over Christmas.
At a recent meeting of the council its portfolio holder for Environmental Services Coun Jack Tyrrell responded to a question on the issue claiming that the council would look at it again ‘after a six month trial’.
However, when The Voice asked why ‘a trial’ of the routes had not been mentioned before, the council sent a statement from Coun Tyrrell admitting there had been ‘no intention’ of a trial.
A former council employee in the Environmental Services department, Tony Crofts, contacted this paper, initially to complain about his rubbish not being collected.
Mr Crofts says he and his colleagues used to decide on the routes manually before moving them to a GPS locator for the bin lorries to use.
He claims he told council officers implementing a computer system would be a mistake as its software is based on the collection of wheelie bins and wouldn’t take into account ‘local knowledge’
Incorporating the Fleet
Route system was a four-year process that cost £40,000, Mr Croft claims. Created by Bartec, it’s used by a number of local authorities.
A spokesman for the district council confirmed it was using the system but while not revealing the cost said it was ‘a fraction’ of that with no fee for the software but an annual licence fee.
Mr Crofts, who no longer works for the council, said: “They wanted to go fully digital whereas we used to be part-digital.
“The number of houses in the district has grown exponentially in some places and the routes have to be balanced or you’d request a new vehicle or crew.
“We used to work out the routes on the map and used that to programme the bin lorries’ GPS systems.
“The new system maps out the routes using the computer programme, but it’s based on wheelie bin collection which is what the vast majority of authorities use, not bag collection.
“It also doesn’t take into account local knowledge, for example how difficult a road is to get down.”
Leader of the opposition South Holland Independents on the council Coun Rob Gibson said he was aware a new computer system had been put in place for the bin routes and there had been ‘friction’ between officers and staff.
“I’m happy to give the benefit of the doubt as there’s always going to be niggles and problems, but we’re getting to the stage where something needs to be sorted,” he said. “If what they’ve introduced is still not working then they’ve got to get back to the drawing board as we’re getting more complaints every week.”
Coun Chris Brewis told South Holland District Council recently he’d had ‘more complaints from residents with regards to missed waste collections in the past month and a half than he’d had in the past 19 years’.
Coun Tyrrell said in a statement: “We are committed to providing excellent waste services and successfully collect more than 99.8 per cent of collections each week from residents’ homes.
“We continuously look at ways to enhance our services, the re-routes were not intended as a trial.
“However, if we need to apply our resources differently as part of our dedication to ongoing improvements, we will look to doing this only where necessary.
“We will always keep our residents informed where we have to adapt our service for example when responding to the challenges of weather and resource constraints.
“While re-routes are part of optimising our resources, recent issues faced by some residents stem from the post-Christmas surge in waste volumes.”
Coun Tyrrell told the council that over Christmas there was an extra 210 tonnes of rubbish and that there had been staffing issues.
“That was a big problem,” he said. “We had a few days off which didn’t help.”