Published: 06:00, 06 July 2021
| Updated: 16:36, 06 July 2021
A new £6 million fleet of bin lorries equipped with CCTV is being rolled out in a bid to tackle missed collections and other issues.
Canterbury City Council has taken over the running of the household waste service and says cameras fitted outside the vehicle will help improve the system.
The delivery of the new vehicles follows the council's ditching of contractor Serco for poor performance and the creation of its own new waste collection company, Canenco.
It is replacing the majority of the old leased waste wagons it inherited with 49 new trucks and vehicles, complete with the latest technology.
But council leader Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding insists the cameras are not for snooping on its workforce.
"I think the staff will embrace them because they want the service to improve as much as we do," he added.
"They will provide evidence of what crews are doing and any difficulties they face, like parking obstructions which prevent the trucks from getting through, missed collections and even insurance claims."
The council says the new vehicles have been chosen specifically to meet its needs, rather than generic vehicles from a lease company.
For example, the food vehicles are plastic, which means the waste remains in vehicles and is less likely to cause corrosion. And some of the bigger trucks are narrower to access more roads.
The new dust carts will run on diesel - albeit the latest Euro 6 emissions standard - as electric or hydrogen fuel cell ones are still very expensive and their long-term reliability is still being tested.
The new service is also using digital telemetry that tracks and records all the vehicle movements to provide vital information to inform the likely switch to zero emissions vehicles in the future.
"There are obviously still gremlins that need to be worked out and it'll still take a while for everyone to get to grips with everything...."
Cllr Fitter-Harding says the new fleet signals "a new start" and shows the council's commitment to providing a better service to residents.
And he says in the long run buying the vehicles works out no more expensive than leasing them.
The new bin lorries are set to become a familiar sight on the district's streets as their introduction continues over the coming months
The transition to Canenco has not been without its teething problems but Cllr Fitter-Harding is promising, "it's going to be great."
"There are obviously still gremlins that need to be worked out and it'll still take a while for everyone to get to grips with everything," he said.
"We're always looking at what we can improve next and now we have direct control to do what we want.
"There was a reported missed bin collection the other day, and within 30 minutes crews had gone back and sorted it.
"Previously with Serco that could have taken hours and days, with all different paperwork."
Last week a resident reported that 40 homes in Dering Close, Barham, had not had their recycling bins emptied.
Council spokesman Rob Davies explained: "They were missed due to an access issue and we will catch up as soon as we can. The website should be showing this information and we're looking into why this isn't happening in this particular case."
He says the council is also promising a "more personal" service to residents if they should need to report an issue.
In an effort to better the current service, a cross-party working group is set to be formed in the coming months, with councillors pitching ideas and discussing issues which need to be resolved.
The issue of waste piling up beside unemptied communal bins outside council flats has been a recurring problem over the past month.
The council previously stated they would be staying, despite fed-up residents calling for wheelie bins to return.