Problems with bin collections that saw 15 days of waste pile up for some properties have been blamed on a variety of factors – including a council’s system for clearing the streets.
Many Medway residents were left frustrated when their rubbish wasn’t taken away as usual over the festive period.
A report has now revealed that issues faced by waste contractor Veolia – which included lack of staff and an “unfortunate event” that closed a waste disposal facility – caused the delays.
But they were exacerbated by Medway Council’s poor planning.
Council leader Cllr Vince Maple (Lab), speaking at a Full Council meeting on January 24, said the authority would be receiving a rebate from Veolia for the interrupted service, although the amount was yet to be decided.
He said: “I would like to apologise to the people of Medway for the service not being at the level we would want it to be.
“We recognise our partner Veolia had a key part in that.
“We want to get everything right, but occasionally sometimes things will go wrong...”
“I am pleased we will be getting a rebate from Veolia. They have recognised that the people of Medway have been impacted.
“We want to get everything right, but occasionally sometimes things will go wrong.
“It’s important to recognise when those things happen and learn to make sure they don’t happen again.”
Some areas were left with 15 days worth of rubbish between December 18 and January 2.
Ian Gilmore, the council’s head of regulatory and environmental services, admitted: “Whilst that situation was triggered by a lack of collection hauliers and access to disposal capacity, it needs to be recognised that it was exacerbated by our Christmas collection methodology.”
Addressing the Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on January 23, he said there were lessons to be learned by Veolia, Medway Norse and the council and conceded that communication with the public could have been better.
Mr Gilmore praised the hard work of all staff involved, adding: “We’d also like to thank the residents of Medway who overwhelmingly worked with us to manage the impact of this problem.”
Cllr Stephen Hubbard (Lab), who represents Strood and Frindsbury North, said: “I think we made an error with the programme that we set out for Medway Norse to work to and we compounded the problems Veolia had.
“We had two days where there were 15 days worth of waste were being collected. That 15 days was not acceptable.”
David Fitzgerald, general manager of Veolia Environmental Services, said a waste disposal station could not be used following an incident, the nature of which has not been made public.
“There was a specific issue that one of our disposal facilities had an unfortunate event that led to its closure and that meant we had excessive amounts of waste entering into the first week of January when the double collection days were scheduled,” he said.
“As a result, that created a backlog. Every year we’re acting on a knife-edge because of the additional volume during the Christmas period and the unavailability of that facility created this specific issue.”