Crews to start clearing backlog next week

Residents whose garden waste service has been suspended since July are to get a one-off collection starting next week.

Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells borough councils, which operate a joint waste contract, suspended the service to protect core collections of food waste, recycling, clinical waste and refuse as contractor, Urbaser, struggled with a shortage of HGV drivers.

As staff shortages persist, the one-off collection will see all garden bins emptied by two crews, rather than the usual six, alternating between the two boroughs. The 45,000 subscribers to the service are not being charged for the period of suspension or for the one-off collection.

The collections will be carried out by day of the week, starting on Monday, October 18 in Tunbridge Wells. When that is completed, which is likely to take several days, the crews will switch to collecting Monday’s bins in Tonbridge and Malling. The same process will then progress to Tuesday collections and through each weekday until all rounds are complete.

Residents are being contacted by letter and email to advise them of the collection and details of how they will be notified ahead of bins being emptied in their area. Updates will be emailed to residents throughout the collection period and published on the councils’ websites and social media channels.

Cllr Piers Montague, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council cabinet lead on waste, said: ‘We fully understand that residents who subscribe to this service want normal service resumed. We want that too and are working with our contractor to address the problems around the recruitment and retention of drivers. However, as is becoming increasingly clear, this is a serious national issue for which there’s no quick fix and it could be a matter of months before we see a return to regular fortnightly collections.

‘In the meantime, crews will be working hard to maintain our core collections while also clearing the garden waste backlog. As soon as we have completed these rounds we will review the situation and consider options for further collections if the resources are there.’

Cllr Matt Bailey, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council portfolio holder for the environment, said: ‘We thank residents for the incredible patience they’ve shown so far during the forced suspension of the service. But we appreciate that many subscribers have full bins from their summer gardening and waste has been sitting in their bins for some time. So it needs to be collected.

‘This one-off collection is a step in the right direction and will help alleviate the immediate problem. But we’re still pushing the contractor to get the resources in place to resume the normal fortnightly collections as soon as they possibly can.’

Published: Wednesday, 13th October 2021