Original article from Kent Live
Residents of Tonbridge and Malling have been left outraged over delays to the council's waste collection services.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council released a statement this week alerting residents that their green bins and boxes will not be collected until June 12.
It said that its contractor was running "at least five working days behind on recycling collections".
The announcement has left many local residents unhappy.
With temperatures expected to hit highs of 20C next week, people are becoming concerned over the prospect of leaving piles of rubbish outside in the heat.
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The council has said that the hold up was due to a shortage of HGV drivers, which the contractor, Urbaser, describes as a national issue following Brexit and the pandemic.
A similar issue was reported by KentLive in Folkestone earlier this month, where locals were also angered by the delay to waste collections.
In a statement released yesterday (June 24) a spokesman for Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council said: "Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council has been forced to suspend collections of household recycling bins due to a national shortage of truck drivers.
"Householders in the borough are being asked not to put out green-lidded recycling bins and green boxes to allow crews to catch up with a backlog of missed collections. Black bins for non-recyclable material, food waste caddies and garden waste bins are currently being collected as normal.
"Like many other waste service providers, the council’s contractor, Urbaser, has been struggling with a shortage of drivers in recent months. Shortages have been most severe in crews dedicated to recycling rounds."
"Black bins, food waste and garden bins are being collected as normal."
Many residents from Tonbridge and the surrounding areas have made their frustrations known on the council's Facebook page.
"So another three weeks until our green collection. My box is full and our bin is full," one person replied.
"What are we supposed to do with all the plastic and recycling? Guess we'll just have to put it in the black bin," another said.
A third, however, sympathised with the situation and said: "I agree that we pay our council taxes for this service but I do also understand there is a national shortage of HGV drivers which can’t be helped."
Others didn't waste their time getting straight to the point.
"What a joke," one person wrote.
"Absolutely ridiculous," another added.
What happens next?
Urbaser says it needs a to suspend recycling collections for a further two weeks to catch up. The council expects full service to be resumed from Monday 12 July and has issued the following advice which applies to green-lidded bin and box collections only:
- Residents with outstanding recycling collections from last week (June 14-18) should leave their bins out. These collections should be completed by Saturday, June 26
- Recycling collections due this week (June 21-25) and for the next two weeks (June 28 – July 9) have been suspended
Black bins (non-recyclable material), food caddies and garden waste will continue to be collected on the scheduled days. During this period, residents due a black bin collection may also put out their green bins and boxes. The waste will be combined and used to generate electricity.
Recycling banks for paper, cans, plastic and glass are also available across the borough.
Javier Peiro, Managing Director, Urbaser Ltd, said: "We would like to apologise to residents for this disruption to their recycling service and reiterate that we remain committed to recommencing collections as soon as possible.
"A significant upturn in waste and recycling volumes, combined with a national driver shortage exacerbated by the lack of driver training and testing during the pandemic, means that we are struggling to address the current shortfall.
"However, we are taking positive steps to address the issue and this brief suspension of the service will help us to consolidate our resources and resume recycling collections."
Cllr Robin Betts, the council’s cabinet lead on waste and recycling, said: "We recognise the frustration that residents feel when their bins are not collected. Unfortunately, in recent weeks the shortage of drivers both nationally and in our borough has become acute and a brief suspension is the best way to get things back on track.
"I’d like to apologise for the inconvenience this is causing and assure everyone that we are working hard behind the scenes with Urbaser to overcome this short-term issue and ensure residents get the service they expect."