Unprecedented number of calls over bin saga

ROTHER received just over 31,000 calls and emails about its disastrous new bin collection scheme in just one month alone.

The district council said bin-related complaints and queries made up 76 percent of the total number of contacts it received during July.

The new bin collection scheme was introduced across Rother on June 30.

Although the first two weeks appeared to go relatively well, contractor Kier soon fell behind with collections, leaving bins overflowing and frustrated residents making repeated calls to the council in desperate attempts to get their waste collected.

A spokesperson for the council said: “It’s an unprecedented number of calls.

“In terms of phone calls, it’s around three times the number of calls we would have in an average month.”

In July, 3,933 bin collections were recorded as being completed late.

In August the figure was 1,915.

In June, before the new scheme was rolled out, the figure was just 989.

Meanwhile Wealden District Council, which includes Ninfield and Hooe, is also continuing to experience problems with refuse and recycling collection.

The council, which saw the scheme introduced in July 2013, says the figures for missed bin collections “continue to be unacceptably high”.

Rother and Wealden are due to meet with representatives from Hastings Borough, Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County Councils today (Friday) to discuss the joint waste contract, which all councils signed at that end of 2012.

In the meeting agenda, Rother said the first two weeks of the service had experienced minimal problems.

But in week three there were ‘recyclate disposal issues’ at the site in Pebsham, forcing Kier to go to alternative disposal points, diverting collection trucks away from their rounds.

RDC said: “From this point on, Kier struggled to get service back on track and had difficulty completing work and managing the ensuing backlog.

“Service performance suffered and large numbers of missed bin/collection reports and complaints were received, stretching the increased resource the council had set aside to deal with the change period.

“For a period of four/five weeks Kier was not making any progress or significant inroads into recovering the service, although during this period the council did all it possibly could to support Kier and to elicit a recovery plan from them.”

Additional resources were drafted in during August in a bid to clear the backlog.

But RDC admitted it had “some concerns” over the “operational resilience” of Kier and its capacity for crisis management.