Council admits recycling service shortcomings

PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 November 2010

Mr Thomson admitted collection levels had caught the council out

Mr Thomson admitted collection levels had caught the council out

Copyright Archant Ltd

NORTH Somerset's 'recycling revolution' has hit so many problems because workers were not prepared for the sheer volume of material being recycled, the council has admitted.

North Somerset Council was inundated by complaints after the new service was rolled out, and now admits its workers were not ready to deal with the surge in collections.

And to add to the controversy, Weston town centre residents with limited collections have been given an unusual solution – they have been told to take their own recycling to a nearby supermarket for collection.

David Thomson, the council’s acting head of streets and open spaces was responding Weston residents at the town centre’s PACT (Police and Communities Together) meeting on November 10.

Mr Thomson said the contractors had been on a ‘steep learning curve’ in the first few months of the new service.

He said: “The workload for the collection crews has been more than expected. There have also been some mechanical breakdowns which have also caused delays in the service.” He added that some crews had been working on Saturdays to catch up.

Residents of terraced properties in the centre of the town have seen their recycling service temporarily taken away as part of the recent changes.

When asked by residents about the changes and why they now were being told by the council to take items to recycle at Tesco, Mr Thomson said: “Recycling used to be sorted from the clear bags left out by residents, and this was undertaken by one particular employee who would take the items back to the depot and sort by hand. This is now not financially viable.”

He also added that ideas that might be considered for the centre of the town are mini recycling centres in ‘strategic’ areas for recycling in neighbourhoods, or a co-operative scheme whereby residents can collect for less able neighbours.

Mr Thomson also explained that enforcement action may be taken against residents who still fail to recycle after involvement from council waste advisors.

A spokesman for the council said: “Since implementing a new recycle and waste collection system, we have seen early indications that recycling rates are increasing rapidly.

“This is good news - both financially and environmentally - and something which was always anticipated.

“We are currently not able to offer a recycling service to some residents in central Weston. The houses and flats do not have sufficient space to store recycling containers and the pavements outside them are extremely narrow, meaning it would be dangerous to ask residents to leave containers there for collection.

“We will be working with the residents to find a bespoke solution for these properties in due course and residents have been asked to take as much as possible to the facilities at Tesco in the meantime.”

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