‘Lorries breaking down, Beast from the East, new routes and IT system’ reason for missed bin collections claims Doncaster waste boss

Lee Garrett (left), Doncaster Council head of waste and highways infrastructure addressed councillors on the issue of missed collections
Lee Garrett (left), Doncaster Council head of waste and highways infrastructure addressed councillors on the issue of missed collections

Doncaster waste bosses have said lorries regularly breaking down, a snow storm, new routes and IT systems all contributed to swathes of missed bin collections earlier this year. 

Lee Garrett, Doncaster Council’s lead officer on bins made the admissions to councillors at a scrutiny meeting.

The council awarded the £8.7 million a year contract to the French owned company back in March. SUEZ will be responsible for bin collections across Doncaster until 2026 with an option to extend until 2028.

New figures seen by councillors show missed bin collections from March to October 2017 and the same period in 2018 increased by 158 per cent from 6,031 to 15,557.

Mr Garrett said they expected ‘teething problems’ but ‘weren’t expecting’ the Beast from the East which dumped huge amounts of snow across the UK.

“We would expect there to be teething problems due to new ways of working and new days of working. We’ve also had a new corporate IT system linking that with our own,” he said. 

“We expect that for any new contract and new re-route and that’s what we’ve got.

“What we weren’t expecting was the Beast from the East and that was the Wednesday before the contract started on the Monday which brought huge disruption for two weeks. 

“The contract is getting very close to new contract performance with all the new equipment and all of the other things I’ve mentioned

Finningley councillor Jane Cox said ‘a lot’ of Friday bin collections in her ward were done on a Saturday. 

But Mr Garrett said this doesn’t count as a missed bin collection and is referred to as ‘dropped work’ 

“For eight or nine weeks there was an awful lot of breakdowns and spent an awful lot of money with the contractor on new vehicles but they very susceptible to minor tweaks on hydraulics and like all new wagons – computers. 

“That had a real impact on them and not only were there new rounds but wagons were breaking down on a regular basis in the first two or three months.”

Tosh McDonald, councillor for Town Ward raised the figures from Doncaster Free Press’ investigation on bin collections which found the council has received 58,000 reports in five years. 

“The figures seemed astronomical and for each one it was a bad enough issue for someone to report it in the first place. 

“Town ward where I represent was the highest and I also found one of the responses was that was made was ‘it’s only such a tiny percentage’ – that may well be true but do you feel that’s a sensible way to put it to residents who have been suffering?”

In response, Mr Garrett said: “There has been a marked improvement over the six months and we don’t want any missed bins. The FOI was for five years which is around 31 million collections and SUEZ are at 99.9 per cent.

“It is at 0.1 per cent of misses – it is reasonable but we do expect better over these coming months and years.

“There will be some misses – everyone’s human and there are things outside of people’s control. 

“However we know full well it’s not pleasant and for people to take time out to make those complaints whether its on the phone or going online.

“We’d love it to be 100 per cent but we live in the real world and that’s never going to happen.”