Recycling service branded as rubbish by residents
PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 January 2011
NORTH Somerset Council's recycling service has come under fire once again after residents across the district saw rubbish pile up outside their houses for up to a month.
Residents in parts of Weston such as the hillside, and the Coronation and Oldmixon estates, plus villages including Congresbury and Locking, saw collections severely disrupted by December’s spell of wintry weather.
And as the district entered the New Year, the piles of food waste and other rubbish lying outside houses have led to health and safety fears.
Council officers say contractor May Gurney reported a 30 per cent increase in recycling in the week following Christmas, and extra resources are now being used to clear the backlog.
The council is hoping most rubbish will have been cleared by tomorrow (Fri), with crews set to work an extra day on Saturday, in the hope that normal service will resume on Monday.
However, the pledge has done little to placate angry residents, some of whom last saw their rubbish collected on December 3, with food waste last being taken on December 10.
Many believe services were simply unable to cope with the combination of snow and Christmas, while some even claim the council has advised them to put rubbish in black bags, which were phased out as part of the new recycling roll-out last year.
Simon Kerrigan, chairman of the Coronation Residents’ Association (CORA) and a resident on the Coronation estate, said:
“I have tried to get in contact with May Gurney, the contractors in charge of the recycling, but when I spoke to someone from North Somerset Council about it they said that we could only contact them via email.
“Rubbish has been piled up in the estate for weeks. There has definitely been a mix-up between the council and the contractors. It seems that the council keeps changing the goalposts with the collections, and May Gurney don’t know what’s really going on.”
A council spokesman said: “Like many waste authorities throughout the country we have experienced disruption to our waste service.
“The disruption was due to the severe weather which extended beyond the clearance of roads and has had a particular impact on recycling services, which involve manual handling on pavements, which lost nearly a week’s worth of collections.
“We did set up four temporary bring sites at short notice for residents to deliver their waste and recycling, these proved very successful.
“We had plans in place with contractors May Gurney to deal with the additional waste normally associated with the Christmas period and had agreed Bank Holiday working in accordance with the contract, to address this additional load.
“If your collection is missed then please leave your containers out and they will be collected as soon as possible. It is clear from yesterday’s collections that there is a considerable volume of recycling to be collected and that there will be disruption to the service during this week.
“Our contractors have increased staffing levels by 50 per cent and deployed five additional vehicles to the recycling service and the priority remains picking up the recycling which remains uncollected.”
The new-style recycling service initially drew strong criticism last year when the changeover meant many collections were missed, with more than 700 complaints logged in the first week alone.
Here are some of the thoughts of Mercury readers from across Weston and North Somerset:
Robert Wright, of Longridge Way, Weston Village:
“Whenever we speak to anyone at the council about the rubbish, we get the usual excuses about the weather, and nothing gets done. We’re living on a tip at the moment, and it’s not nice.”
Sheila Wright, of Cornfields, Weston:
“We haven’t had a waste collection since December 10, and we’re still waiting. The roads have been cleared for three weeks now, but we keep hearing the same excuses.”
Julian Alzano, of Byron Road, Locking:
“The contractors sent one flatbed to pick up someone’s rubbish because they made so many complaints, but it left the road half-empty even though everyone’s rubbish was still on the road.”
Austin Sayer, of Dunster Crescent, Weston:
“The bins and bags are piled up in the street, which is a real concern because of vermin. I haven’t seen it this bad since the winter of discontent in 1962/1963.”
David Burrows, of Lyefield Road, Worle:
“I received a parcel delivery on the morning of December 24 by TNT on a lorry the same size as the recycling vehicles without any difficulties, but alas no refuse or recycling collection that day.”
Matthew Evans, of Pelican Close, Worle:
“I tried the council’s public phone number after the Christmas break, but it seems they have switched the phone over to a voicemail system. Simply turning off the telephones so their clients can’t phone is simply unacceptable.”
Judy Hayes, of Cedern Avenue, Weston:
“Despite the council website telling us that collections are back to normal, we have still not had any recycling or food waste collected since December 13.”
Shirley Hadley, of Yewtree Close, Langford:
“We’ve had one rubbish collection since December 12, and no recycling at all. The council is always saying we should be recycling more, but this is what happens.”
Peter Bale, of Azalea Road, Wick St Lawrence:
“Allowing for the weather we thought they would probably be a day or two late for our recycling and food waste, but a week later they were still uncollected. In that week all frequently-used roads had been cleared of snow.”
Mark and Lee-Anne Lovegrove, of Chichester Way, Worle
“We tried to take our food waste and recycling to the tip in December and whilst they took the cardboard etc ok, they refused to take our food waste, some of it being two weeks old, as they had taken too much in on Monday and I was told to take it home.”
David Harvey, of Trewartha Park, Weston:
“I can understand what happened with the weather, but as soon as the snow and ice started to clear, nothing seemed to happen and the rubbish was still lying there.”
Peter Sewell, of Silver Street, Congresbury:
“The rubbish was taking up a lot of space on some of the pavements in the village, which made it hard to walk around sometimes.”