Waste and recycling collection problems prompted nearly 26,000 complaints and calls to council

Rubbish at Oak Lane, Hanson Lane, Halifax.
Rubbish at Oak Lane, Hanson Lane, Halifax.

Failings in the waste and recycling collection service since the beginning of August resulted in almost 26,000 complaints and calls to Calderdale Council - more than the population in Brighouse and Sowerby Bridge combined.

Figures reveal that since the contract with Suez was implemented, there have been a total of 11,860 missed collections up until week beginning November 7.

In that same period, there was a total of 25,961 waste management calls to the council.

Heidi Wilson, Environment and Housing Service Lead at Calderdale Council, said in a report that ‘the first three months of the contract did result in some major failings, particularly with respect to missed collections, in the service delivery received from Suez, followed by measures being put in place to remedy these failings’.

“Although minimal collection day changes were stated in the bid documents, it became apparent shortly before the start of the new contract that these day changes would affect up to 80 per cent of properties.”

The report also highlights that some of the routes could be finished early whilst others were too demanding to complete on the allotted day.

“There is still additional work required to bring the routes to a complete balance, which is currently ongoing.”

It was also revealed that service difficulties were further hindered by issues over the delivery of calendars to residents. The large scale missed collections and the length of time they went on, resulted in the Council activating deduction clauses in the contract.

Councillor James Baker, chair of the Economy and Environment Scrutiny Panel said since this action, the service has significantly improved, with missed collections, complaints and call volumes reducing.

He said: “The initial difficulties as part of the roll out of the new waste contract have been well documented. Now we’re almost four months into the contract, it’s important we can look back and review the progress made in this time and receive an update on how the initial problems have been rectified.”

A number of improvements were introduced as part of the contract, including options for collecting additional materials, improved environmental performance from the new, more efficient vehicles, and greater use of technology to improve service delivery. To deliver these benefits, it became necessary to change the collection day for most households in the borough. The amount of recycling material collected has also increased, with the expansion of the range of materials collected as part of the new contract.

Nick Browning, General Manager at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, added: “Our relationship with the council is a partnership and we feel this has been further strengthened by the new service and improvements made in recent months.”

Mark Thompson, Calderdale Council’s director of economy and environment, added: “The council and Suez have worked together through contract mechanisms to tackle difficulties associated with the new contract, which is delivering increased recycling at a substantially reduced price to Calderdale.”