Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Front Page - By Ly­dia Chantler-hicks lchantler­[email protected] thek­m­ @ly­di­ach_

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.can­ter­ uk/info/20001/bin­s_and_waste

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM2703682

Bins and re­cy­cling col­lec­tion missed in Lin­stead Close

Cllr Neil Baker

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