Damning report on waste collection across East Cambridgeshire after service was taken back from private contractors

PUBLISHED: 17:37 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:38 18 July 2018

Jo Brooks and Cllr Julia Huffer pictured when the transfer of services took place

Jo Brooks and Cllr Julia Huffer pictured when the transfer of services took place

Archant

Council bosses say they uncovered a catalogue of failures across East Cambridgeshire when they took back control of waste management from private contractors.

Council bosses say they uncovered a catalogue of failures across East Cambridgeshire when they took back control of waste management from private contractors.

Jo Brooks, director of operations at the council, has produced a damning report on waste collection highlighting “inconsistent and often poor cleansing standards” and “unstructured cleansing activities” that break environmental protection rules.

Since April 1 the service has been run by the council’s trading arm East Cambs Street Scene Ltd.

But in her report Ms Brooks says Veolia – who ran waste management in recent years – had no comprehensive daily round streets, operated with less staff than was needed, had no customer service standards and lacked performance targets.

The performance report from April to June 2018 detailed the raft of shortfalls left behind from the previous operators.

It is set to be discussed at the regulatory services committee on Monday (July 23).

“There were no detailed work regimes and record sheets for street cleansing resulting in unstructured cleansing activities against Environmental Protection Act requirements,” it reads.

“Combined with the consistent redeployment of street cleansing staff on to waste collection rounds this led to inconsistent and often poor cleansing standards.

“The working on the highways qualification required for cleansing of the main trunk roads was allowed to lapse, meaning little cleansing activities on the trunk roads.

“There were no comprehensive daily round sheets for waste collections that included on one sheet all the activities to be completed on round daily, e.g. assisted collections, litter bin emptying.”

Staffing shortfalls were also a cause for concern, with more than 50 per cent of the costs of the waste and street cleansing services are staffing related costs.

However, East Cambs Street Scene say they have already made a “number of service improvements” including clearing the district of more than 40 tonnes of fly-tipped waste.

Ms Brooks said: “When we took the service over we inherited some issues and are working hard to fix them. Whilst we still have a way to go, I am pleased with what we have achieved in a very short time.

“The first quarter’s performance results are disappointing but not surprising, and we are putting in measures to ensure that our beautiful district remains just that. We are determined to ensure our residents have a waste and street cleaning service to be proud of.”

Councillor Julia Huffer, service delivery champion for waste services and vice chairman of the regulatory services committee, said: “This report really gets to grips with the underlying issues which can now be addressed, and bears out what residents have been telling Councillors for a long time.

“In fact, it really states the key reasons for bringing the waste home - to regain control of the service so we could make the improvements we know are needed. Following what was a very smooth handover, we now need to get to work on providing the excellent service we are striving for, and we will get there.”

Jason Hedgecock, a crew member from East Cambs Street Scene, said: “We have only recently started working as part of East Cambs Street Scene but it‘s clear that the company wants to make a difference for both staff and residents. Since the transfer, morale amongst the guys has improved considerably and, although there will become teething problems, we now feel part of something that will improve the service to residents.” I have approached the operations team with a suggestion regarding dog fouling bins and this is now being implemented. It’s great to feel like you’re being heard.”

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