Councillors want action to solve long-running problems with rubbish and recycling collections as their email inboxes are full of complaints.
They said that despite a pay rise and talks to solve management issues after a strike last year, parts of Brighton and Hove were still suffering missed rubbish and recycling collections.
Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen asked for a report on improving the service at Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee last night (Tuesday 20 September).
He said that, as part of the settlement with striking bin lorry drivers last year, the council offered a pay rise and scrapped the lowest pay grades at a cost of £859,000 a year.
Councillor Bagaeen, who represents Hove Park ward, said that people in The Paddocks, a cul-de-sac just off The Droveway in his ward, had spent the past six months trying to make it easier for bin crews to reach their rubbish.
He said: “Despite attempts by residents to do everything from making sure the road is clear, trimming all the shrubbery on the side to ensure vehicles have access, to making sure their bins are on the edge of the road, none of those has resulted in their rubbish being collected on the particular day it is supposed to be picked up.”
Councillor Bagaeen said that he had 70 emails in his inbox on this issue alone, which generated 800 grams of carbon.
He called for a report to set out the underlying issues affecting particular areas and to propose a solution.
Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that his party had asked for a cross-party working group to investigate and review the “systemic failures” affecting the provision of basic council services.
He said that staff worked hard in challenging conditions and the problem was not with them but the systems and government cuts totalling more than £100 million to the council’s finances.
Councillor Wilkinson said: “Our city’s residents have had to endure overflowing bins with recycling and refuse bins not being emptied for weeks on end.
“These are serious issues that residents expect and deserve solutions to. They are not new concerns.”
Labour councillor Nancy Platts, the former leader of the council, said that she had repeatedly sent the same email about missed collections, including assisted collections, and received a different response every time.
She said: “What this is telling us is the service is so fragile that if we lose a member of staff, it seems to throw out the whole round.
“So the whole of Whitehawk just gets missed and then they have to wait a month to have their recycling collected.
“It’s got to the point that residents are saying to me ‘shall we just give up and put our recycling in the bin’ which will drive down recycling rates.”
Councillor Platts asked officials to tell councillors what was needed to resolve the problems whether it was more staff or a bigger budget.
When councillors debated resolving the strikes in October last year, Councillor Platts spoke with workers on the picket line at Cityclean, the council’s rubbish and recycling service.
She said that they felt that they were “treated like something on the bottom of a manager’s shoe”.
Councillor Platts listed issues ranging from second-hand trucks frequently breaking down, teams sent out in the wrong vehicles and new drivers not given details about rounds with “mazes of alleyways”.
The committee voted by five to four for a detailed report, with Labour and the Conservatives voting in favour and the Greens against.
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