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Agenda item

Waste collection service - progress update


The Panel received a representation from Terry Langford, a Merton resident. Ms Langford highlighted that she already receives an assisted collection. Having contacted the call centre to request the same following the rollout of the new waste service, she noted that no response has yet been received.


In response, Anita Cacchioli, Interim Assistance Director Public Space, thanked Ms Langford for her comments and noted that any resident already receiving an assisted collection under current arrangements would continue to do so and that there is no need for anyone already receiving an assisted collection to do anything further. These arrangements will simply continue. It is only those that wish to begin receiving assisted collections that have been asked to provide notification.


Cllr Brunt, Cabinet Member for Environment and Street Cleanliness, provided an introduction to the item. The new service, commencing from 1 October 2018, is the most significant change to waste services that the borough has ever experienced. Delivery of wheeled bins has commenced. Rollout of the new service is also happening in Croydon but is one month ahead of Merton and therefore collections under the new arrangements have now started. There has been a significant number of public engagement events that have happened across the borough to promote and explain the new service. These have provided residents with the opportunity to talk to both officers and Veolia staff about the service. It’s estimated that these have engaged around 2,000 residents and allowed discussion of some residents sharing bins, difficulties regarding some properties not having sufficient space to store bins and requests for larger and additional bins.


It was highlighted that the wheeled bin service caters to 64,000 households across the borough and therefore the service change is an enormous task. Noted that some residents don’t trust Veolia to correctly return bins to their property. The Cllr asked that residents, officers and Veolia work together to get the new service working correctly including that residents make reports where the service isn’t happening as required. Resident reports are needed in order to achieve enforcement of the contract.


Noted the enhancements that are being achieved through the new service with clothing and battery collections happening from the kerbside (batteries are especially causing difficulties in landfill). Also highlighted the need for Merton to improve its recycling of food waste to increase take up and volume so that this is no longer included in residual waste to go to landfill. On average Sutton households are recycling twice as much food waste as those in Merton demonstrating that there is room for improvement. The general deterioration in street cleanliness was also noted and that there are those that are welcoming the service change in order to address these issues in addition to lowering the costs of the service. Finally, it was noted that the new service was a key part of the administration’s manifesto at the election in May 2018.


Charles Baker, Commissioning Manager for Waste and Fleet Services, added that the largest number of calls to the contact centre has been to request bigger and more bins. There have been 4,000 request for food waste caddies. However, with only an estimated 30 – 35% of households in Merton currently using these, further take-up is needed in order to get the coverage needed.  There has been an 8% increase in requests for assisted collections and eight wards have received their wheeled bins with deliveries ongoing throughout September.


In response to member questions, the following clarification was provided:

·         (Cllr Brunt) The information provided to residents on the new service rollout has been clear, concise and comprehensive. A postcard will be delivered to all households with their last collection under current arrangements to highlight that their next collection will be under the new arrangements;

·         (Chris Lee) As with any contract, there is a need to achieve come clarification once it is underway. This would be the case with any contract. These discussions are commercially sensitive and therefore cannot be shared at the current time. However, it is hoped they will be concluded as soon as possible;

·         (Cllr Brunt) Aware of a small number of complaints regarding the delivery of the wheeled bins which are currently being addressed. Discussions are ongoing regarding the collection of old bins that will no longer be used. It is hoped it will be possible to put something in place within two months of the service going live. However, the priority currently is to get the new service up and running;

·         (Cllr Brunt) Changes to the phasing of street collections have been made to ensure that collections from high density areas across the borough happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This has been specified by the contractor as it is the contractor’s role to specify how the contract is best achieved;

·         (Charles Baker) There are currently no plans to collect oil at the kerbside. This is because large collections of oil result in this being classed as a hazardous material for which a specialist contractor/service is required. However, if this is taken by residents to the Garth Road facility, there are designated containers in which oil can be disposed of safely. Arrangements for the collection of Christmas trees remains unchanged and will occur from the kerbside in the two weeks following Twelfth Night;

·         (Charles Baker) The bulky waste service is very popular which is why there is a two to four week lead time for collections which mirror the schedule for other waste collections. Work is happening to try and reduce this lead time as much as possible;

·         (Charles Baker) Ideally existing bins will be reused or recycled. An arrangement has been put in place for any old bins taken to the Garth Road facility to be recycled;

·         (Charles Baker) Aware that there are some maisonettes that incorrectly received information on the new service intended for houses. These have subsequently received the correct information. If there are any other households that have received incorrect information, please notify officers so this can be rectified by the contractor;

·         (Cllr Brunt) The existing team of three Neighbourhood Services Officers is increasing to five in order to provide more resource to enforce the contract. Highlighted that the contract takes time to bed in. Examples of Veolia taking action to improve the service includes letting some staff go who weren’t working to the required standard. The Council needs to allow the contractor to take this action. It’s the Council’s role to manage the contract which means notifying the contractor of deficiencies so that it can make the necessary rectifications. Tight management of the contract is required to improve performance;

·         (Chris Lee) An increase in calls to the contact centre is anticipated with the start of the new service. There has been an increase in call centre staff made since the beginning of August. However, there hasn’t been a spike in calls to date. This is seen to demonstrate that resident questions have been addressed by the leaflets and other communications. Noted that the service is now live in Croydon and delivering satisfactorily although hiccups both in Croydon and Merton are anticipated;

·         (Charles Baker) Timing for the evaluation of the rollout is yet to be determined. However, this does have an allocated budget and the involvement of the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel in this process would be welcomed.


RESOLVED: To involve residents and seek their feedback on the rollout of the new service as part of the planning for the Veolia item that will come to the Panel in February 2019.




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