SERCO WARNED AS MISSED COLLECTIONS HIT FIVE-YEAR PEAK COUNCIL TO POUR £300K MORE A YEAR INTO TACKLING ISSUES AUTHORITY COULD CREATE IN-HOUSE FIRM TO EMPTY BINS
Council chiefs are planning to give waste collection firm Serco an extra £300,000 a year in a desperate bid to improve its much maligned service.
Since Christmas householders across the district have complained of bins being collected late or not at all.
And with blustery conditions, many have seen their rubbish blown across their streets.
Now a leading councillor has apologised, and said the city council plans to pay the waste collectors Serco an extra £300,000 a year to improve services with a condition of “no excuses” attached. What’s more, it says talks are on-going at launching an entirely new service when the existing contract expires.
Serco is a private firm contracted by the council. It has a deal from 2013 until 2021 worth around £4.7 million a year.
But it is currently missing key performance targets.
Its performance is measured by the council using the rate of bins reported ‘missed’ per 100,000 collections.
The target figure for 2017/18 is 23. It is currently more than four times that figure. In addition, Serco has not yet hit its target at any point during its current contract.
Serco insists recent problems are beyond its control. But tempers are beginning to flare.
Conservative councillor Neil Baker said: “The service has not been up to the standard I would expect residents to receive, and for that I’d apologise.
“There clearly needs to be changes made to ensure that when problems do occur, as they always will, there are contingencies in place.”
A report, to be considered at a community committee meeting on Wednesday reveals the potential annual funding increase. If given the nod by full council at the end of February, it would usher in new performance-related measures to allow the council to claw back the additional funds if the service does not improve.
Cllr Baker said: “I would certainly hope if the investment were made, a position of ‘no excuses’ regarding the contracted service would be adopted.”
He said talks have already taken place between Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Canterbury councils, as well as Kent County Council, about the future of waste collections after 2021.
“This includes the creation of a waste collection company owned by some, or all, of the four councils in order to give more flexibility,” he said.
Leader of the Labour group, Alan Baldock said: “We’re pleased Cllr Baker has admitted the collection of waste, a statutory service that is the responsibility of Canterbury City Council, is not up to standard.
“We must not forget it is this Conservative administration that agreed Serco’s current contract, and they have failed to manage that performance and ensure residents get what they have paid for.
“It is time to bring this contract back in house, and ensure every penny of the money for waste collection is used for that purpose.”
Rory Heap, chair of Whitstable Labour Party, said he has been forced to call Serco on an almost monthly basis regarding missed collections at his home in Shearwater Avenue, Whitstable.
Mr Heap, 68, said his food waste was left for more than a week after the advertised collection date, forcing him to dispose of compostable rubbish with household waste.
“It’s a managerial failure,” he said. “They miscalculated how many crews they would need to send out after Christmas.”
Speaking on behalf of Serco and the council, spokesman Rob Davies said: “It is hugely frustrating that we are continuing to have problems which are largely down to ongoing issues with access to the waste disposal site that are out of Serco’s control. Some recent vehicle breakdowns have also exacerbated the problem.
“We are working hard to resolve the access issues directly with the waste disposal site operator. In addition, the post-christmas collection date changes have now ended, meaning we have more capacity to catch up.
“Serco’s crews are working hard to clear the backlog and we appreciate everyone’s patience.
“If your bins are still to be emptied, please leave them where they are and Serco will get to you.”
Residents are urged to report issues at www.canterbury.gov. uk/info/20001/bins_and_waste
Bins and recycling collection missed in Linstead Close
Cllr Neil Baker