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Council criticised for cancelling rubbish collections

Cllr Mike Haywood, left, meets Abdool Kara, new Chief Executive of Swale Borough Council, outside the offices and shows him around his ward
Cllr Mike Haywood, left, meets Abdool Kara, new Chief Executive of Swale Borough Council, outside the offices and shows him around his ward

By Hayley Robinson

Some residents will be receiving an unexpected surprise this Christmas - no rubbish collection for a month.

Contractors Verdant took the decision last Friday not to collect rubbish from properties west of Sittingbourne Town Centre on the grounds of safety. But despite promising residents that outstanding collections would be cleared before Christmas Eve it has now been decided that the back log will not be taken until the next scheduled collection in the New Year.

Labour Councillor Mike Haywood (pictured) criticised the decision via his blog saying it means some households won’t have had their rubbish cleared for a month because the council operates a fortnightly waste collection.

He is now calling for an urgent review of the situation.

He said: "The reasons they give for not collecting the outstanding waste is that many pavements, back roads and housing estates are still suffering from frozen ice.

"Despite assurances I have received that the situation will be resolved, I would worry about there being a recurrence of the situation if we continue to have very bad weather.

"No one expects miracles. Friday was dire, but we had two days when roads and some pavements could have been cleared.

"I cannot believe that the Council is settling for no rubbish collections over Christmas with no prospect of a change in the situation after two days without snow?"

A spokesman for Swale Borough Council said: "Public safety is of paramount importance and there are real concerns about the stability of heavy lorries on roads where there is still some ice about. Three freighters have slid on Swale’s roads so far, thankfully without causing major injury, but this emphasises that we are having to assess the risk constantly. Our officers are out on the streets of Swale monitoring the situation every day.

"Where possible, we are sticking to the regular collection days, and while we are saying that we will collect a double amount from those people whose collection day we have missed on the next due collection day, we will, of course, try to use any spare vehicles to collect from those people earlier if we possibly can.

"We have made every effort to keep everyone up to date over the last few days via the local press, the Council call centre and our website. We understand everyone’s frustrations and apologise if we are not able to reach residents this week."

Kent County Council’s Highways Department also got a ticking off from Cllr Mike Haywood.

He said: "They have failed to replenish salt bins and refused to site new ones when requested.

"However right the district council’s position is in saying that highways is KCC’s responsibility it’s not enough. It doesn’t really help residents. We have a duty of care to them.

"There are residents who live in town, not the middle of the country who couldn’t get past their driveway two days after the snow. I tried to get to some of them at the top of Gaze Hill Avenue on Sunday and couldn’t even reach them on foot.

"Our pavements have been nothing short of death traps in Sittingbourne."

A spokesman for KCC said: "Kent Highways Services has to prioritise its crews to salt the main roads in Kent and keep the county moving safely.

"Kent Highway Services looks after over 4,000 miles of pavements, so we have to focus salting on priority pedestrian footways including town centres and hospitals.

"If members of the public feel that a particular pathway should be a priority area, we would urge them to contact us on 08458 247 800 so we can consider including it."

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