Staff shortages and COVID affecting Dorset waste collections

waste collectionsTHE effects of the national HGV driver shortage, coupled with the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, are starting to be felt across Dorset Council’s waste services as collection rounds feel the strain.

As recently reported in the national press, the impact of the driver shortage is being felt by councils across the country.

In Dorset, some crews are regularly having to work overtime and often at weekends, which is not sustainable.

These pressures also come on the back of a year of increased household waste amounts as more people stay and work from home.

Dorset Council senior officers recently briefed local MPs on the issues currently impacting waste collections, street cleansing and bin deliveries, in the hope that a long-term solution can be found.

Recruitment of drivers in Dorset has always been challenging, particularly due to high local housing costs, but the current wide-scale staff shortages across all depots are unprecedented.

The council currently has multiple vacancies for drivers and loaders across their waste services team, along with some absence due to sickness and others on planned annual leave.

All employees across waste services are working hard to ensure that key waste services continue to run throughout this challenging time.

The council is having to temporarily suspend or delay some garden waste collections so that crews can be redeployed to support vital rubbish, food and recycling collections.

Litter bins are also being emptied less frequently in some areas of the county, and new bin deliveries are also being delayed.

While the council continues to work on tackling the problem, residents are being kindly asked to note the following:

  • Always report your missed collection, even if your whole street is affected. The council website has an automated system that will inform you what’s happening with your bins and provide guidance on what to do next.
  • Please ensure your bins are out by 6am on your collection day. Some rounds are being carried out differently, meaning that we might turn up earlier or later in the day than usual.
  • If you find a litter bin is full, do not try to leave your litter on top/next to it or on the floor nearby – please take it home and place in your household bin. The council also encourages people to report over-filled bins on the Dorset Council website.
  • If any garden waste collections have to be cancelled/stood down, the council will contact customers directly to advise them. As compensation for any garden waste collections you did not receive, the council will automatically apply a discount to next year’s subscription fee.
  • Rubbish, recycling, garden and food waste can be dropped off free of charge at any of Dorset’s household recycling centres, which are operating as normal.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “Emptying the bins for almost 380,000 Dorset residents will obviously present challenges from time to time, and we are proud to provide one of the best kerbside collection services in the country under normal circumstances. But I’m afraid the current situation is both unprecedented and unsustainable.

“While we will continue to ensure that Dorset’s waste is dealt with as best we can and do whatever is necessary to address local concerns, we need action to be taken by central government to address the national driver shortage and help to mitigate the continuing effects of the pandemic.

“I want to thank the hard-working waste services crews and admin staff, who are doing a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances, and assure them we are doing all we can to support our frontline staff while these problems persist.

“I also want to thank the people of Dorset for their patience and understanding as we tackle the issues at hand, most of which are outside of our control.

“We will continue to provide updates as the situation changes and ask that people report any missed bins so they can be kept up to date with what’s happening with their collections.”

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