Published: 10:22, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 15:57, 22 July 2021
The 'pingdemic' has seen garden waste services have been suspended across a Kent district in the latest twist to its rubbish saga.
Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) has blamed a combination of Covid-19 isolations and the national shortage of HGV drivers for the latest delay in collections.
The shortage of drivers has also impacted the district's Park and Ride pilot scheme, which has been suspended to allow Stagecoach to focus on its standard routes in the area.
On Wednesday, there were reportedly as many as 16 Veolia staff absent from work, leading the company to tell the council it needed to suspend garden collections to focus on clinical, waste, food and recycling rounds.
Councillor Stuart Peall, FHDC Cabinet Member for Enforcement, Regulatory Services, Waste & Building Control, said: “I do appreciate the difficulties this will raise for some residents, but on balance the council needs to prioritise clinical, food, refuse, and recycling rounds in the circumstances we are facing.
“We have had assurances from Veolia that this action will result in a positive impact on the remaining collections and we will of course seek to recoup losses to the council from Veolia.”
Residents who have signed up and paid for the annual service will receive a refund, but could be forced to wait almost nine months until the end of the financial year.
Whilst garden waste is not being collected, the council has encouraged residents to use local recycling centres; meaning any already full bins will need to be emptied and taken to the tip.
An FHDC spokesman said that the council was meeting regularly with Veolia to work on the 'unacceptable level' of missed bins, and will be seeking repayment for performance clauses not met within the contract and to cover other additional costs
The firm is working on amending the new routes and has set up its own call centre for missed bin reports to take pressure off the council’s Customer Services team.
The news has already sparked anger among some residents, while others have seemingly received word, with green bins left out on the street in Folkestone ready for colleciton.
Folkestone resident Mark Hourahane told KentOnline: "I appreciate the staffing shortage is tricky and this may seem a good solution, but it causes additional problems for KCC recycling centres and residents, who are going to suffer in time lost, financially and probably having a smelly car.
"We had to book a garden waste trip the other week, by the time our slot came it stank and our car did for weeks.
"Elderly residents aren't going to be able to go to the dump, and what about people who don't have transport? There are a lot of people who are going to suffer".
Will the suspension in garden waste collection affect you? Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org