Blue Bin / Black Box Recycling collections – when? It’s a guess…..
Not long ago, after the strike by the workers of the ‘collection service provider’, Hills Municipal Collections, Wiltshire Council announced an amended schedule for Recycling and General Waste collections in many parts of our area. Since then collection days have been – at best – approximate. Particularly for the Blue Bin and Black Box recycling collections.
Marlborough.news has been approached by many residents asking about this, what has caused the delays, when it is likely to get back to normal and why it has suddenly started as Wiltshire Council seem to be slow to respond to enquiries and reported ‘non collections’.
In some areas collections are regularly three days late. It seems to be affecting many parts of our area in and around Marlborough. To the west of the Marlborough area, in parts of the Kennet Valley villages recycling collections are scheduled for every other Friday but now frequently happen on the following Monday. Not always, but more often than not since the ‘change’ to the schedules.
In those villages, recycling containers will be put out on a Thursday night, ready for collection first thing on the Friday, but will (likely) stay out, unemptied over the weekend and into the following week. If residents assume that the collection day had changed to the Monday, and wait until Sunday night to put the bins out – sure enough the collection would take place on schedule, on the Friday.
Leaving the bins out, particularly in such rural areas where threats are narrow, pavements minimal (if at all) bins can be a real hazard for pedestrians and drivers when left out for long periods.
Marlborough.news has contacted Wiltshire Council and we have received replies. Initially it was to blame the contractors – Hills Municipal Collections. The collection process is not done by the Council itself, it is outsourced to Hills so ‘it’s their responsibility’.
When it was pointed out that although the outsource contractor may be falling short of acceptable performance, it is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that the contractor is ‘managed’. That they (the contractor – Hills) are enabled to perform to the agreed specification of the contract and we – as customers of Wiltshire Council pay Wiltshire Council a sizeable amount every month (year?) – and it is the authority’s responsibility to ensure that collections are done on time and properly, irrespective of whether the process is outsourced or managed ‘in house’. Outsourcing should not be a euphemism for ‘a***e covering’.
The most recent response states that: “Understandably, we are receiving a high level of correspondence about the waste issues, and we do not have the capacity to respond to everyone” and then gives a link to a web page on the Wiltshire Council website.
What is the reason for this? Apparently ‘severe staff shortages’ at Hills, the contractor. The answer further states: “To enable the delivery of essential collection services such as clinical, residual waste, and garden waste some recycling rounds are running one, two, or in some instances three days late”.
So definitely ‘Approximate’. This does need to be addressed, it’s not the only area where Wiltshire Council services are being ‘lessened’, but we – as Council Tax payers – don’t have that opportunity to react in such an ‘approximate’ manner regarding payment – when or how much.
It would appear that the terms for the contractor – Hills – are extremely tight, or so we understand, and that maybe the Council is squeezing them in a way that they couldn’t squeeze the operation if handled in house? We don’t know, just what we hear.
Either way, for the Recycling collection process, it is the responsibility of Wiltshire Council to ensure that collections are done according to a published schedule. Not the responsibility of the contractor. We pay the Council for this and every other service. We are their customers, something that should recognised at all times.