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Refugees Could Work in Surrey’s Rubbish Collection

Published on: 15 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 16 Dec, 2021

Garden waste lorry in Elmbridge Photo LDR

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Refugees could be hired to help plug a shortage of HGV drivers in Surrey.

In the face of a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers, a contractor looking after rubbish collection in four Surrey districts is working with four organisations to recruit and train refugees for the roles.

Normally, in the UK, asylum applicants are not permitted to work.

An external scrutiny committee meeting of Mole Valley District Council on Tuesday night (14 December) heard a presentation from Joint Waste Solutions and Amey.

Joint Waste Solutions manages rubbish collection and street cleaning on behalf of Mole Valley, Elmbridge, Surrey Heath and Woking councils with Amey working as the contractor.

Garden waste collections have been suspended indefinitely in these areas, with one-off collections being organised to empty existing waste throughout the autumn.

Lara White, accounts manager at Amey, said in the meeting the company was working with four refugee organisations across Surrey to bring people in.

She said potential recruits need to go through three stages of theory tests before they can start driving training, and that many would have to start from scratch.

She said: “Some [refugees] have experience driving in their country of origin. However, we have to comply with the UK legislation and that starts with a UK car driving licence and then moving to the HGV courses.”

Amey was also working on opportunities for ethical recruitment, including working with ex-offenders and homeless people through an ethical recruitment company it has previously worked with on delivering hampers.

She added that the company had also been focusing on developing internal candidates, training up eight current loaders to driver roles, who should start their driver training in the new year. There had also been external applicants for training.

From early next year, job adverts will be put on side of bin lorries to help with recruitment.

The council webcast can be viewed here.

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test 4 Responses to Refugees Could Work in Surrey’s Rubbish Collection

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    December 15, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    As far as I’m aware, GBC operatives have done an excellent job over the past couple of years. A few missed collections, but no worse than usual.

    What a pity this couldn’t be mentioned and GBC and its contractors congratulated.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 15, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    If only the government could see that it would be better to speed up the processing of our immigrants, instead of pretending that they are going to send them back to where they came from, many would be useful in all the occupations now lacking staff.

    There are almost certainly trained medics, brickies, carpenters, restaurant workers, as well as many others who would be happy to have a job, picking vegetables and fruit, working for the council etc.

    Instead, these poor people are not allowed to work, do not have their skills checked and have to rely on official handouts. What a waste.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    December 18, 2021 at 8:51 am

    This suggestion would only encourage even more illegal entries to our country. That in turn would mean even more building on our green spaces. It should be rejected.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    December 18, 2021 at 6:43 pm

    They are often coming here because a) they speak English, b) they have family here and will be able to live with those relatives and c) they know they will not (probably) be persecuted for their skin colour, religion, dress-code etc.

    At least if we gave them work in occupations desperately needing personnel (having lost many of the EU workers) they could be contributing to their host country. But as I said, they would need to be monitored. We are very bad at knowing who has arrived and where they have gone.

    So few refugees are being sent back it would make no difference to the numbers coming here. If the processing procedure was efficiently conducted, those who should be sent back wouldn’t have to wait endless months.

    And why should their homes be built on green spaces? I’m sure that people coming from war zones, or famine areas or where they are persecuted for religious or ethnic reasons would be only too grateful to have small flats built in city centres or elsewhere on brownfield sites.

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