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Almost 2,000 bin collections missed in July

The borough’s waste contractor Urbaser has exceeded its maximum target of 556 missed collections every month from April to September
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

(Credit: Waltham Forest Council)
(Credit: Waltham Forest Council)

Bin men and women in Waltham Forest missed nearly 2,000 collections this July after “exceptional” heat and staff shortages impacted the service.

Figures published by the council show hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of collections were missed every month between April and September.

The service was worst in July – when around 1,900 collections were missed – and August, when 1,400 were missed.

However, the borough’s waste contractor Urbaser has exceeded its maximum target of 556 missed collections every month from April to September.

Urbaser is currently in dispute with its own workers, who are demanding paid sick leave and better wages and are considering strike action.

In a written statement prepared for a full council meeting on 20th October, deputy leader Clyde Loakes claimed the spike in missed collections was seen “not just in Waltham Forest but nationally”.

Responding to a question from Conservative councillor Kay Isa, he wrote: “The national driver shortages and fuel shortages during summer 2021, coupled with the extreme weather this summer, has led to well-documented spikes of missed collections.

“The heatwave this summer impacted this primarily manual-based service significantly. It also coincided at the peak of the holiday season, when replacement crews were hard to come by, to help pick up the rounds that weren’t completed.

“However, following these incidents, we can clearly see the service improving again and missed bin numbers falling.

“Despite all of that, less than 0.2% of bins were not collected on their scheduled collection day in July when we experienced an extreme heatwave.

“We have managed this contract in a fiscally responsible way despite the economic challenges and inflation rises.”

In August, the council announced a plan to pause brown bin collections, containing both food and garden waste, but quickly U-turned after resident outrage.

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