Dorset Council calls on central government to fix bin lorry driver shortage

Regular rubbish bin and recycling collections are being missed in Swanage and across the county due to what Dorset Council calls an unprecedented staff shortage at its waste depots.

Swanage residents are reporting that rubbish, recycling and garden waste isn’t being collected with bins being left on pavements unemptied.

Dorset Council has admitted that its refuse service is feeling the strain and has turned to its local MPs to raise the issues currently impacting waste collections, street cleansing and bin deliveries, in the hope that a long-term solution can be found.

Uncollected bins

Staff shortages across all depots are unprecedented

It says that recruitment of drivers in Dorset has always been challenging, particularly due to high local housing costs, but the current wide scale staff shortages across all depots are unprecedented.

Dorset Council currently has multiple vacancies for drivers and loaders across their waste services team. It’s currently advertising for large goods vehicle (LGV) drivers based at the Wareham depot, offering a salary up to £24,491 a year.

With a shortage of staff, this means that some crews are regularly having to work overtime and often at weekends, which it says is not sustainable.

Dorset Council is also reporting that these pressures come on the back of a year of increased household waste amounts as more people stay and work from home due to the Covid pandemic.

Waste and recycling bins

“We need action to be taken by central government”

Councillor Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for customer and community services, said:

“Emptying the bins for almost 380,000 Dorset residents will obviously present challenges from time to time, and we are proud to provide one of the best kerbside collection services in the country under normal circumstances. But I’m afraid the current situation is both unprecedented and unsustainable.

“While we will continue to ensure that Dorset’s waste is dealt with as best we can and do whatever is necessary to address local concerns, we need action to be taken by central government to address the national driver shortage and help to mitigate the continuing effects of the pandemic.

“I want to thank the hard-working waste services crews and admin staff, who are doing a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances, and assure them we are doing all we can to support our frontline staff while these problems persist.

“I also want to thank the people of Dorset for their patience and understanding as we tackle the issues at hand, most of which are outside of our control. We will continue to provide updates as the situation changes and ask that people report any missed bins so they can be kept up to date with what’s happening with their collections.”

Garden waste bin

What residents can do

Dorset Council says residents can help by noting the following:

  • Always report your missed collection, even if your whole street is affected. Our website has an automated system that will inform you what’s happening with your bins and provide guidance on what to do next
  • Please ensure your bins are out by 6 am on your collection day. Some rounds are being carried out differently, meaning that we might turn up earlier or later in the day than usual
  • If you find a litter bin is full, do not try to leave your litter on top/next to it or on the floor nearby – please take it home and place in your household bin. We also encourage people to report over-filled bins on the Dorset Council website
  • If any garden waste collections have to be cancelled/stood down we will contact customers directly to advise them. As compensation for any garden waste collections you did not receive, we will automatically apply a discount to next year’s subscription fee.
  • Rubbish, recycling, garden and food waste can be dropped off free of charge at any of Dorset’s household recycling centres, which are operating as normal.

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