Resolution to bin problems still being discussed between FCC and SHDC

A special meeting held to discuss the failings of contractor FCC Environment to provide a bin service that is fit for purpose has resulted in further obscurity.

By Richard Harding   |   Kingsbridge and Ivybridge reporter   |
Wednesday 8th June 2022 5:28 pm
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Follaton House, South Hams District Council headquarters
Follaton House (South Hams District Council )

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Feelings were running high at a special meeting of South Hams District Council has held to discuss to the waste disposal contract run by FCC Environment which has resulted in numerous missed collections as well as a suspension of the brown bill collections over the winter.

In answer to most questions from Councillors a representative of the company kept repeating that they were in ongoing discussions with SHDC and were therefore unable to make any comment other than explain a few operational matters.

Lib Dem Cllr Julian Brazil (Stokenham) said: “It’s always jam tomorrow and that is never delivered.” Cllr Brazil suggested that it would be better to collect brown bins once a month rather than face a ‘lottery’ every two months.

Conservative Cllr Nicky Hopwood (Woolwell) said: “All we get is excuse after excuse.”

Councillors remarked that the bins are very heavy and distressed elderly people had to wheel them out then bring them back when they are uncollected.

Many commented that the situation was completely unacceptable.

Cllr Pearce said:" Mr Longdon, I believe when we initiated this contract you were regionally in charge of this area - and when you started collecting things; black bins, brown bins and recycling bags you were achieving better results than we were on our old system.

"We thought 'We've got a good one here.' But that would indicate to me that it's nothing to do with our district because you had then contracted to have new delivery rounds, initiate the new service, change the depot at Ivybridge."

"So if initially, you could do better than us, everything you've done since would indicate that it's not the District at fault, but it's FCC at fault."

"We have been meeting with you over a period of time, and when we meet with you, your body language says to me that you don't want to be in that meeting.

"We have never had satisfactory answers from you, we have never understood, or been given any information to be able to understand why you are not doing anything to make our service better - like looking at the rounds again, like looking at the correct number of vehicles on the road - because if you had fewer vehicles and they were collecting another ten or twenty houses each a day or perhaps a bit more, you would be able to have enough drivers to get around - none of that has ever come out - so my question to you Mr Longdon is when are you going to hand in your resignation to FCC because you have not done a good job for us."

Mr Longdon asked if he expected the Chair to answer the question, to which Cllr Pearce responded saying: "Mr Longdon I do expect you to answer that question."

Mr Longdon said: "I will not be handing in my resignation Councillor Pearce."

The Chair thanked Mr Longdon and Mr Ashby for participating in the meeting officially closing it at 5.45 pm

The meeting left Councillors frustrated that no new resolutions could be provided due to ongoing discussions between South Hams District Council and FCC.

Allerdale Council in Cumbria suffered a number of similar issues with the waste contractor in 2019.

Speaking to the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service, at the time FCC Environment said the incorrect council data was the “root cause” of the “under-resourcing” of the contract.

After months of problems Allerdale revealed that more than 66,000 bins had not been emptied on time in just seven weeks during April and May.

In a bid to alleviate those problems, Allerdale council has announced that, garden waste collections would be suspended for two months, with glass, cans and plastic recycling also stopped for up to the same length of time.

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