2.250 households on private and unadopted roads in East Cambs face new demands from council if they want their refuse bins collected
- Credit: Archant
One of the biggest shake-ups in refuse collection by East Cambs Council could mean an uncertain future for 2,250 households on private and unadopted roads.
Fearful of health and safety risks to staff and damage to £160,000 refuse vehicles, the council - which now contracts out the service to its commercial arm - is considering major changes.
The council says 716 of the homes affected are owned by housing association, 170 are on studs and 462 are on sites under managing agents or park homes.
Hetty Thornton, performance management officer, will explain the proposals to the operational services committee on September 9.
She says that collections are made to remote properties on private and unadopted roads "which can only present a health and safety risk to the crews and public".
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In many instances these roads do not meet a legal standard and remain unadopted by the county council.
She said that even though the trading company is owned by the council if it was a private concern "the risks of accessing substandard private and unadopted roads would outweigh the benefits and therefore they would refuse to attend to residents located on such roads".
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Ms Thornton says the previous contractor Veolia took on this work historically as it was a part of the contractual agreement with the council.
"It would be unlikely that any private organisation would accept these terms and conditions due to potential insurance claims resulting from accessing substandard private and unadopted roads," says Ms Thornton.
"As an employer, East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS) has a legal requirement to ensure the continued safety of all its employees.
"In order to comply with these regulations ECSS must take the necessary steps to ensure its employees work environment meets the required standards set."
ECSS plans to "implement any mitigation against any financial risks" so changes will be made.
She says that some private and unadopted roads across the district are in such poor condition it has led to damage to vehicles and additional maintenance costs.
"Unfortunately historically these costs were not recorded by Veolia so it is difficult to attribute exact costs, however these figures are now being recorded," she says.
Many private and unadopted roads have soft verges and with refuse collection vehicles of 18 or 26 tonnes having high centres of gravity compared to other trucks, these are more prone to topple over in such conditions.
"This presents a serious safety risk to members of the crew and the public," says Ms Thornton.
"Overhanging trees on unkempt verges can impede vehicles from accessing a property, or cause damage to vehicles and employees.
"And the conditions of the roads, including deep potholes and obstructions can cause injury to people or damage to the vehicles."
Ms Thornton says collections from remote properties on private roads can incur significant amounts of time for the collection crews to access "which reduces collection rates and negatively effects service delivery performance".
To ensure safety, reduce risk and ensure the council is not open to compensation claims for accessing substandard road, the council proposes to:
1: Tell house owners to ensure private or unadopted roads meet minimum standards
2: Where this is not undertaken alternative collection arrangements will be made whereby the resident will be required to take their wheeled bins and sack collections to the point where the road meets the public highway.
3: Where a property is located on a private or unadopted road the house owner will be required to sign an indemnity agreement so that ECSS and the council will not be liable for any damage due to wear and tear of the road surface sustained as part of routine waste collection.
4: If all of the property owners on a private or unadopted road do not agree to sign then a roadside collection at the point of where the road meets the public highway will be required.
5. All customers receiving an assisted waste collection because of ill health will be required to provide medical evidence to show they are unable to put their bins out for collection. Where no evidence can be provided but help is still asked for, the council will arrange a 1-2-1 meeting. The council says this will ensure "that our most vulnerable residents continue to be provided with a household waste collection".
For new developments the council will take a "proactive approach" in contacting house builders once planning consent is given.
Ms Thornton says a project plan has been drawn up and an annual review of private and unadopted roads will be carried out.
"If ECSS highlights concerns of a road being of a substandard nature during the intervening months measures will be put in place," she says.
"Each road will be assessed on an individualised basis."
The council says its public relations agency has been called in to help get across what the changes will mean.
"By providing a waste collection service on roads in substandard conditions this is impacting on the efficiency of the team hindering future efficiencies and performance improvements," she concludes.
"Some are not built to the required standards. This provision is putting the public and waste crews at risk due to health and safety concerns.
"Private and unadopted roads are causing unnecessary damage and additional maintenance costs to waste vehicles due to substandard road conditions.
"Similarly, ECSS and the council are left exposed to possible insurance claims from damage caused as a direct result of accessing private and unadopted roads in poor conditions."