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Serco criticised for repeatedly missing bin collections of disabled woman in Herne Bay

By Jodie Nesling

A furious threat to dump uncollected rubbish on a councillor’s doorstep after Serco repeatedly missed collections may have led to flowers and an apology - but not to a better service.

Canterbury City Council’s cleaning contractor sent Marilyn Rickwood flowers after our sister paper the Kentish Gazette revealed bins outside her home in Tyndale Park, Herne Bay, had been routinely missed.

The 62-year-old’s former husband Stephen Rickwood visits her regularly and was so angry over the ongoing saga, he sent an email threatening to dump the bins on the doorstep of council leader, Simon Cook.

Marilyn and Stephen Rickwood are demanding action over missed collections
Marilyn and Stephen Rickwood are demanding action over missed collections

Mrs Rickwood is severely disabled and qualifies for assisted bin collections, which is a free service open to anyone who struggles to put their rubbish at the kerbside.

But she was left exasperated by Serco’s persistent failure to collect the overflowing bins.

After months of despair, the grandmother thought the issue had finally been resolved when three weeks ago, she received an apology and a bouquet of blooms.

But they were missed during another collection day shortly afterwards, prompting Stephen Rickwood to lodge another complaint.

He said: “It beggars belief that three weeks after the Gazette’s article on Mrs Rickwood’s persistent missed bin collections and after apologies and flowers from Serco, together with a promise of a special manager being brought in to ensure this situation does not happen again, the recycling bins were not collected again.”

The 67-year-old says the authority should terminate its contract with Serco when it expires in 2021 and take collections in-house to save money and improve services.

"It beggars belief that after apologies and flowers from Serco, together with a promise of a special manager being brought in to ensure this situation does not happen again, the recycling bins were not collected again" - Stephen Rickwood

But city council spokesman Rob Davies says the incident was unprecedented.

He said: “We are very sorry Mrs Rickwood’s bin was not collected on the correct day of Wednesday.

“This was due to a vehicle breakdown, which meant her entire road and some others did not have their bin emptied.

“Crews were back there on Thursday morning to complete the work.

“A Serco manager has also rung Mrs Rickwood to apologise personally.”

The authority currently carries out 1,193 assisted collections throughout the Canterbury district.

A total of 30 complaints have been lodged in the period from November to February.

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