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Faversham couple cancel council tax payments to Swale Borough Council amid Suez bin crisis

An elderly couple finally had their bins collected after a month, after they took drastic action and cancelled their council tax direct debit.

Malachi and Sue Doyle stopped payments to Swale Borough Council (SBC) for their Band D home in Faversham two weeks ago after growing fed up with the lasting effect of the Suez bin crisis.

The pair said their rubbish was last collected from their South Road property in mid-March – and not at all since Suez’s £152 million contract with Mid Kent Waste Partnership came into effect.

However, just days after the pair spoke to the News last week about their frustrations, workers from the waste firm came and emptied the bins, delighting the couple.

The pensioners are now expected to reinstate their payments.

Before their bins were collected Mrs Doyle, 80, said “We've done everything they ask. They ask you to ring within two days if you're missed by the collectors.

“Then they say, ‘Well, we should have done it and we'll get in touch’ and they don't.

“So we have a contract and they've broken it as far as I'm concerned.

“I know that the council tax covers other things but it just might make them pay some attention.

“I think if everybody stopped paying their council tax until they sorted it out, it would be done in an instant because normally if you don't pay something, everybody's down your throat immediately.”

For a Band D property, the yearly cost of council tax is £2247.83 – though it is likely the pair receive discounts due to their pensioner status.

With the Doyles’ cottage being on a cul-de-sac just above South Road, neighbours generally wheel their bins down to the main road before bringing them back up to be collected.

However, under Biffa, the previous service providers, an assisted pick-up was arranged due to the couple’s age and 85-year-old Mr Doyle’s heart problems, which saw him have a pacemaker fitted two years ago.

But for weeks service had seemingly not been resumed for the Doyles, with general waste, recycling and garden waste – a service which costs extra – left behind by crews.

Mr Doyle, a retired company director said: “With Biffa, you'd obviously get the odd day when something was forgotten and you'd chase them up but they would come back and it would be done.

“I don't blame the company [Suez], because it's up to the council when they give them their brief.

“You wonder what sort of management performance process is there in the council to actually measure what's happening.

“They've never been down here checking on it – it’s like they’re not giving a damn.”

Suez Recycling and Recovery UK took over the eight-year £152 million contract to empty bins in Swale, Maidstone and Ashford on March 25.

It apologised earlier this month for the shoddy service residents had received so far, with general manager Vinnie Masseri admitting the company wasn’t reaching the levels it aimed for.

The Suez chief said: “We’d like to apologise to the households affected and reassure them that our teams are working hard to minimise disruption on the ground.”

An SBC spokesman said: “The council has recently commenced a new waste contract with Suez Limited and, as was expected with any large change, there have been delays and disruptions to some bin collections.

“We understand the frustration of our residents and have, with Suez, issued an apology to those affected.

“It is important for residents to continue paying their council tax as it is collected on behalf of, and shared with, Kent County Council, Kent Police, Kent Fire, Swale Borough Council and parish councils.”

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