Published: 10:57, 25 July 2021
| Updated: 10:59, 25 July 2021
A council leader vows bin collections across a Kent district will now begin to improve - six months after the launch of the authority’s new service.
Canterbury City Council-run Canenco took over from Serco earlier this year, but a number of residents have been left unimpressed by the changeover following a host of reported issues.
Accusations of entire roads not having bins emptied for more than a month and garden waste not being collected since March have been aimed at the authority.
Residents have also questioned why they should continue coughing up council tax as they are “not getting good value for money”.
But council leader Ben Fitter-Harding says Canenco has “achieved incredible progress” in its first six months.
The Conservative does admit there have been teething problems, yet pledges the service will now be taking a step forward.
“While there are persistent issues in some areas, areas that had previously had relatively good service under Serco, the general performance across the board is much better,” he said.
“On Thursday, the council finally ratified the Corporate Plan, making increased resources available to our waste service for the first time.
“So while Canenco may have taken over less than six months ago, the focus on waste and the future of environmental services in our district starts now.
“We’ll be launching a cross party working group into waste collection arrangements, targeting how we can improve our collection regime and make the experience as good as possible for our residents.
“The next phase of the technology Canenco uses is also rolling out next month, allowing the teams to better understand the ‘unusual’ placement of bins.
“For a resident, where they put their bin makes complete sense, but for a computer it can be hard to know that a resident on one street actually puts their bins out the back onto another.”
A £6 million fleet of new dustcarts has this month been rolled out by the council as part of the long-awaited improvements.
But Thanington resident Zuzana Appadoo says the council still needs to drastically improve its game.
“The service has got worse,” she said. “It’s just the same company with a different name but worse than it was before.
“Our collections take longer and are more irregular - about 50% of the time they do pick it up.
“Although we are paying council tax, we are not getting good value for money."
Her views are echoed by Cllr Mike Sole, the Lib Dem representative for Nailbourne ward, who says Canenco is falling way below expectations,
“Something is still very, very wrong in the way that the service is being managed and the council needs to get a grip.
“Some residents are threatening to withhold council tax while calling for a return of Serco.
“I keep getting more complaints and more issues week after week. It’s more than I’ve ever had in the past.
“Whole roads have not had recycling collected for over a month and some garden bins haven’t been emptied since March.”
Martin Silk, a resident of Bakers Lane in Chartham, said: “It appears to be the same management team of old under a new guise with little or no care on how they actually manage situations like these.
“If there is a missed street collection, they claim their system says it has.”
It is hoped a range of reported problems - and the issue of broken bins not being replaced for free - will now be rectified.
Cllr Fitter-Harding said: “The steps that the council has taken will absolutely result in a better service for us all, long term, and I am hugely appreciative of the leeway and understanding our residents have given us, and continue to give us, whilst we get this vitally important change right.
“If any bin or box is damaged during collection I have made it absolutely clear to the council that it must be replaced free of charge. We must always believe what our residents are telling us unless we have proof to the contrary, not the other way around."