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Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council meeting on new waste collection services tonight

A new waste collection service described by MP Tracey Crouch as 'not really good enough' has been praised in a council meeting document.

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is due to hold a Street Scene and Environment Services Advisory Board meeting tonight to discuss the new Urbaser contract that came into play last month.

Rubbish collection stock image. Picture: Urbaser (9584787)
Rubbish collection stock image. Picture: Urbaser (9584787)

Starting on September 30, the arrangements now allow for weekly food waste, plastic bottles, glass, paper and cardboard, batteries and small electrical items to be picked up kerbside.

There is also an opt-in garden waste service which households can pay extra for.

But it has been met with a better response from residents with many feeling let down and left out of bin collection routes.

During the first week of it being implemented 1,133 homes were missed.

The council described it at the time as 'normal' to have such disruption.

The new system saw all of these bins available to residents. Picture by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council(19173652)
The new system saw all of these bins available to residents. Picture by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council(19173652)

In the agenda for the meeting it states that although the first two weeks have been 'challenging' it has been 'successful for the vast majority of residents'.

According to the document this has been noted in a number of tweets, emails and feedback from local members and parish and town councils.

One of the issues highlighted was crews being unfamiliar with the new rounds.

A Larkfield resident, Lewis Howard, spoke to the Kent Messenger about problems he was facing after being missed off of the collection route.

To try and tackle the problem, hot spot areas have been drawn up and are being monitored by staff from the council as well as Urbaser.

Increased amounts of recycling has been reported by the company which has caused the number of tips to increase, especially with regard to food waste.

Lewis Howard's bins still have not been collected(19173647)
Lewis Howard's bins still have not been collected(19173647)

A review has been undertaken of properties on weekly refuse collections as the council feels the introduction of weekly food waste collection and other improved services, allows for waste to be collected fortnightly instead.

The meeting will also hear a recommendation to spend £40,000 on marketing.

A revised plan is hoped to be produced by the end of the calender year focusing on 'key issues' such as spring promotions for garden waste, targeting poor performance areas and school visits.

Another point of discussion is those residents who opted for the Early Bird Scheme for the garden waste service.

Residents could pay £35 for the service if they signed up by August 2. For those who signed up later, some still have not received their bins and they could be waiting until December 1.

More than 24,500 households subscribed for the service which has brought in £936,500 in revenue for the council.

As well as this, more communal bins are set to be rolled out by the end of the year.

However, the number of 'bring bag' sites will be reduced to 10 and strategically placed across the borough including Tesco car park in Larkfield, Station Approach in Borough Green, and High Street car park in West Malling.

All of them will be serviced by Urbaser and will hold the same materials as household bins.

Chris Minnis, UK Operations Manager, Urbaser Ltd said: “With such a significant change to a service it is usual for there to be a period of eight to 10 weeks with a higher level of missed bins.

"However, as crews familiarise themselves with the rounds, the number of missed collections is declining day by day and will be back to the usual, minimal levels by the end of November.

"We can confirm that we are recruiting staff but only to reduce reliance on agency staff to build up the permanent work force, as well as cover holidays and sickness.”

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