THE COUNCIL’S environmental services chief has hit back at critics questioning the cost and efficiency of the change from bin bags to wheeled bins.
A Freedom of Information request put in by Sarah Rouse shows the introduction of the bins by Malvern Hills District Council has cost the council an extra £6,000 a month in diesel, up from £22,686.27 on average from November last year to April 2013 compared to an average of £172.487 per month between May and October this year.
She claimed new waste lorries were breaking down regularly and also hit out at bosses for spending money training agency staff.
Other critics, including town councillor Mike Charles, have claimed the stack of 3,000 wheelie bins currently at the council’s depot shows they were either over-ordered or many residents have not received one.
But Ivor Pumphrey, head of customer and environmental services, said it was ‘simply nonsense’ to say the bins had been over-ordered. Instead he said they had been ordered in bulk to lower costs with the expectation it would take time to get them out to every home. He said they were working with residents and landlords where vehicle access was not straightforward but a certain amount of bins would always remain at the depot to ensure replacements were on hand if needed.
“About half will be delivered out and the rest is a stock level we need to have to conduct the service into the future. Compared to buying in dribs and drabs we are saving at least 20 per cent on the cost of each bin which is a huge amount of money at a time when the council’s really hard pressed.”
He said training was provided for all staff including agency workers to ensure everyone was working to a high standard, adding some of the teams were picking up well over 1,000 bins a day on busy rounds so everyone needed to be trained together to work well.
Mr Pumphrey said refuse collection vehicles were very complicated and, like all heavy vehicles, would have breakdowns especially as they had to negotiate the unmade surface of the landfill site. Arrangements were in place to manage that as with every other waste collection operator but there was ‘nothing unusual’ in the breakdown rates of the vehicles.
“This is the biggest service change we have had in about ten years and we have had to put out a lot of additional vehicles to enable us to manage that change. We are still refining and adapting rounds and are bringing the fuel bills back down. I am not unduly concerned. The overall variance on the environmental service budget is absolutely minimalistic on the thick end of a £3 million budget.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, that’s underlined by the fact we have had large numbers of customers ask for second bins or ask for bigger bins. A lot of customers we originally thought would have stay on sacks have gone to great lengths to be able to have a recycling bin.
“This has been a really successful service change and has been really well received by customers. It disappoints me a small number of persistent critics of the council continue to carry on as they do.”