Focus on emptying the bins, urge councillors

Two councillors whose inboxes are overflowing with complaints about refuse and recycling collections have called for a focus on rubbish.

Some streets in Brighton and Hove have gone without collections for up to four weeks, according to Conservatives Lee Wares and Robert Nemeth.

Cityclean, the council’s refuse and recycling service has been under pressure, with a large number of staff off sick or in self-isolation.

Last month, Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said that Brighton and Hove City Council was hiring temporary staff to keep the service going.

She said that Cityclean was prioritising refuse over recycling.

Councillor Wares, whose Patcham ward includes Hollingbury, and Councillor Nemeth, who represents Wish in Hove, carried out straw polls on social media to find out which areas were being missed out.

Councillor Wares said that more than 20 roads appeared to have been missed in his area and had gone without collections for two to four weeks.

Two streets, Tangmere Road and Portfield Avenue, have access problems.

Councillor Wares said that residents were reporting the missed collections and had said that extra communal bins provided by the council were full too.

He said: “Unlike neighbouring authorities, the council has had a challenging period getting refuse and recycling collected and, in the circumstances, it was right that refuse collections were given priority over recycling.

“We are concerned, however, that recycling collections have started again given that dozens of streets in Patcham and Hollingbury haven’t had their general household waste collected for up to four weeks.

“The priority must remain with refuse collections if we are to avoid further public health issues arising.

“We have highlighted this with Cityclean, the administration and the executive.

“We will work with everybody to get through these unprecedented times but the council should not be diverting resource until it has got refuse collections caught up and capable of meeting its published dates.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth

Councillor Nemeth had responses from across Hove, not just from his ward.

He said that he wanted the council to clarify whether people should put out their recycling or just their rubbish while Cityclean is short-staffed.

Councillor Nemeth said: “I wouldn’t wish to criticise the council for not picking up recycling during this crisis period, even if surrounding authorities have not had issues.

“But, given that I received nearly 1,000 comments from residents online in just a few hours, it is right and proper to respectfully question the council’s stance, which is clearly bothering people after all.

“Wish residents would rather just know the plan and if that’s to say that recycling is cancelled until further notice then so be it.

“It shouldn’t be so hard just to find out what’s going on.”

Councillor Anne Pissaridou

The council said: “We’re doing everything we can to run the service as normal as possible and ask for patience and understanding during this very difficult time.

“Covid-19 means we have a very limited staff due to self-isolating and working from home.

“We have successfully recruited staff but they have to be trained properly and also get used to the collections rounds and how to carry out their work safely.

“We’re aware of the missed collections and aim to catch up as soon as possible.

“We’re encouraging people to email and use our online forms to report a missed bin or box collection or report a problem and request a clean-up as these will be staffed and prioritised.”

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Councillor Nemeth has had an extraordinary number of replies from Wish and Westbourne residents about their puzzlement that a month has gone by and none of us know what the Council’s position might be on all this. Well done to him for raising what is evidently a key issue. Also, people should wash their hands thoroughly after handling a bin, a friend was told by a binperson in Lewes (where collections continue). Another consequence of the virus is that we shall see automated bin collection.

  2. Tracey Hill Reply

    There is, and always has been, frequently-updated information on the council’s website about refuse and recycling. At the beginning of the lockdown the information changed as the service adapted to the workforce they had, and the advice about recycling changed as they managed to recruit new staff. They also had to adapt to changing circumstances, eg closing the recycling centres because they were becoming too busy. But it’s always been the case that refuse should be prioritised over recycling.

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