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Updated: No Garden Waste Collections Until 2022 for Some Parts of Surrey

Published on: 9 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 12 Sep, 2021

By Julie Armstrong

Four Surrey boroughs will not have their garden waste collected again until next year due to a national HGV driver shortage.

Residents who subscribe to the service had been expecting it to resume tomorrow (Friday, September 10), but councils in Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking have today announced collections are “now suspended for the foreseeable future”.

But the lead councillor for Environment, James Steel (Lib Dem, Westborough) confirmed that services in Guildford are expected to continue. He said: “We currently have enough staff to run our normal waste services including garden waste and expect this to continue.”

Cllr James Steel

And he added a recruitment plea: “The HGV driver shortage is a national issue and cancelling our service would be a last resort. We are planning ahead and so we are recruiting more drivers. We would love to hear from anyone who is qualified or would like to be, as we are offering training and development opportunities. Successful candidates will join a friendly team delivering essential services to the residents of Guildford.”

Joint Waste Solutions (JWS), who manage the waste collection contract with Amey in the affected boroughs, said the driver shortage “is continuing to worsen and the situation is not expected to improve for some months”.

It has given no date for collections to resume, but subscriptions will be extended to compensate for the missed collections.

Woking councillor Ann-Marie Barker, Liberal Democrat leader, said: ”Residents have overflowing bins, or extra bags of green waste at a busy time in the garden.

“They can take their green waste to the community recycling centre, but this is at an extra cost for those whose vehicle is a van, unavailable to those without a vehicle and may be challenging for older residents or those with a disability.”

With the bulky waste collection service also still unavailable, she is concerned they “may suffer even more fly-tipping locally”.

Elmbridge Borough Council’s chief executive Robert Moran has written to customers to apologise.

He said: “Over the summer we have been working with our contractor Amey to ensure the waste crews are deployed to maximum capacity.

“Overtime has been made available, pay and retention bonuses have been announced and we have trawled the employment agencies to seek additional drivers.

“The fact is that HGV drivers are in great demand and there are not enough to go around.”

The Liberal Democrats are blaming Brexit. Cllr Barker said: “We all know a number of factors have caused this crisis.

“With the pandemic over and the summer holiday period ended, the lack of drivers is clearly impacted by a backlog of HGV tests due to covid.

“But it is likely those shortages could have been managed if we hadn’t lost so many European drivers who were driven home by Brexit.”

She said she had heard reports of green waste dumped on local commons and open spaces, though JWS said they had had no such reports.

A spokesperson said: “While we wouldn’t expect our garden waste customers to do this, we have reminded them that fly-tipping of waste is illegal. It is also bad for the environment, wildlife and is costly for councils and landowners to clear up.”

He added: “We apologise for the inconvenience this unprecedented national issue is causing. We have done everything possible to keep the garden waste service running and will continue to review staffing numbers weekly to determine when the service can restart.”

All household rubbish, recycling, and food waste collections will continue to run as normal.

Garden waste can be taken to a Surrey County Council community recycling centre for free. JWS said they are monitoring queues and opening hours may be extended if there is increased demand.

Guildford Borough Council has been asked to confirm that its garden waste collection services will remain unaffected.

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test 2 Responses to Updated: No Garden Waste Collections Until 2022 for Some Parts of Surrey

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    September 9, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Simple answer, stop using agency workers and employ them directly on proper contracts where the driver gets properly paid.

  2. Julie Howarth Reply

    September 10, 2021 at 12:02 am

    How come some boroughs can continue green waste collection? Why can’t the limited service be spread out fairly across the county?

    Let’s hear what agency drivers in different boroughs are being paid.

    A recent trip to take the green waste to a recycling centre turned out to be a very expensive outing for us after a screw lodged in our tyre. Not keen to repeat the experience.

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