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More staff brought into Maidstone and Swale to deal with bin collection backlog since Suez took over contract

A backlog of bin collections has forced councils to bring in more staff to help deal with the issue.

Residents across Maidstone, and Swale have reported problems with the service since the contract changed hands from Biffa to Suez on March 27.

Maidstone has a new waste contractor: SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UK Ltd
Maidstone has a new waste contractor: SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UK Ltd

Now, Maidstone council – part of the Mid Kent Services Waste Partnership – has apologised.

It said: “The council apologises for any inconvenience caused to its residents and is using as many available additional resources to help over the next few weeks to improve the reliability of the service.

“The changes have caused issues to the waste and recycling collections across Maidstone.”

Due to the high number of missed bin collections being reported, it has brought in more staff to tackle the backlog.

Gadgets inside the new vehicles. Picture: MBC
Gadgets inside the new vehicles. Picture: MBC

Jennifer Stevens, Maidstone’s head of environment and public realm, said: “We want to assure residents that the council is working with Suez to help put right the current problems with the waste collections in Maidstone in the last few days and have brought in additional resources to help improve the service as quickly as possible.

“Crews have been getting used to the routes, trucks and technology, and whilst it was anticipated that there would be some issues when the new service was introduced, the different ways of working have caused problems that weren’t expected.

“We are working as hard as we can to correct any issues as quickly as possible and would like to thank residents for their continued support and understanding as the contract with Suez is being rolled out and some collections are taking longer than normal.”

Crews will once again be asked to work a third weekend in a row.

Along with extra staff and hours, the Mid Kent Sevices Waste Partnership has introduced smaller vehicles to work alongside its standard 26-tonne dust carts in hopes of reaching more residents than before.

Over-flowing bins in Radnor Close, Maidstone
Over-flowing bins in Radnor Close, Maidstone

It said: “These vehicles have not replaced the traditional carts and they will be used to service roads which, historically, have had access problems.

“As these vehicles are smaller, they will have a lower waste capacity, but these carts will enable the crews to fulfil more collections, which otherwise may have been missed due to road access issues, such as resident parking.”

The council also wished to remind people their collection days may have changed due to the swap in service.

In Nelson Terrace, Faversham, piles of black sacks were reported blocking the street having not been collected since the takeover.

Swale council said that, as of last Tuesday, 94% of general waste, 64% of recycling and 72% of garden bins were collected, though it was aware of some outstanding from the previous week.

Overflowing bins in Teynham. Picture: Lloyd Bowen
Overflowing bins in Teynham. Picture: Lloyd Bowen

However, some homes haven’t had a single collection in the last fortnight.

A spokesman added that staff are adapting to the new routes and system, and have been working extra hours as well as over the bank holiday.

But on Monday the authority issued a statement saying: “Our leader and chief executive spoke to the chief executive of Suez this morning to share our concerns with how the contract has started.

“He assured them they would continue to do all they can to improve the performance, and confirmed they are working on plans to catch up on outstanding collections, and we'll provide further updates this week.

“Suez are in the process of bringing in additional resource which will start to positively impact collections in the coming days and through into nextweek.

Overflowing bins on Sonora Fields, Sittingbourne
Overflowing bins on Sonora Fields, Sittingbourne

"In the meantime, if your bins are missed, please leave them out so they're available for collection.”

Cllr James Hunt (Con) who represents The Meads in Sittingbourne said: “It's an absolute mess. There is confusion coming out of the council and nobody seems to know what is going on.

"This is a little bit more than teething problems.

“I don't know how they're going to get on top of it.”

Lloyd Bowen, leader of the Conservative Group on Swale council, added: “The introduction of the new waste collection service, so far, has let residents down and in some areas been a disaster.

"In Teynham and Lynsted we have had areas that have not had their entire collection for three weeks and rubbish is building up in people's homes, sheds and garages.

“I appreciate a new service does take some getting used to and problems will arise but it is how you respond to this that matters and so far the administration at Swale seem content to allow the rubbish to build.”

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