Green waste collections in Central Bedfordshire are expected to resume shortly, while Tidy Tip timed slots are to be scrapped, a meeting heard.
Driver recruitment issues have prevented Central Bedfordshire Council’s contractor from emptying bins containing green waste this summer.
Ways to ease the backlog were suggested by Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny at a sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.
“The failure to collect garden waste this year has led to rubbish literally piling up and many elderly members of the community struggling to get rid of it,” he said. “People who’ve had compost bins have had their black bags taken away.
“I’ve spoken to a number of residents regarding time slots at the tip. Where as the slot is 20 minutes, pretty much everyone is in and out in five minutes.
“There are some exceptions to this, but it means we’re losing a lot of capacity there. I’ve had requests to consider having a time of the week where you don’t have a slot and just turn up.
“When the collections resume we should consider extending them into the winter until such time as the waste is collected.
“And we could reduce the price of compost bins so hopefully residents don’t need to have so much garden waste collected.”
More clarity from contractor FCC Environment is expected next week around its recruitment, according to Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno.
The council’s intention is to clear the garden waste this year before the winter break, he said.
“The 20 minutes is fine. It’s the number of vehicles we allow in during that time. We’ve dramatically increased that from where we were.
“I’ve asked officers to work with our contractor to remove the booking system. We’d still look to have a system in place for white vans and commercial waste.”
On extending the service into autumn and winter, he confirmed CBC will “make sure bins are cleared, however long that takes, probably a couple of cycles“.
Compost bins are subsidised by the council already, explained councillor Dalgarno, who’s the executive member for community services.
“Bags are easily available to buy,” he said. “We haven’t taken away garden waste bags as we’ve put compost bins in.”
Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young, who chairs the committee, denied rumours CBC “wouldn’t bother by November” if the driver shortage remained.
Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker said: “I’m conscious our residents have paid already for their waste removal services through their council tax.
“So I’m a little uncomfortable hearing we’re asking them to go out and pay for waste collection bags themselves, as they were taken away when they chose to have a wheelie bin.
“The request to reduce the cost of the compost bins isn’t unreasonable given our contractor isn’t delivering the service paid for.
“Someone somewhere is making a cost saving. That needs to be passed on to our residents.
“We’ve a lot of elderly residents who cannot get to the Tidy Tip and don’t have space for a composting bin. You’ve green waste bins which are absolutely smelling and disgusting now.
“Could we have a single collection as soon as possible to get rid of this residual waste, which is festering in people’s bins?” she asked.
Councillor Dalgarno replied that CBC “isn’t paying the contractor for what it isn’t delivering“, while the local authority is having to pay higher driver salaries.
He suggested the huge amount of community spirit generated during the pandemic could help support vulnerable people.
Councillors agreed more garden waste bags be made available, to remove the time slots at the tips and extend garden waste collection further into the winter months if needed.