Refuse collection in Purbeck to get new staff and vehicles

Following a difficult spell for bin collections across Purbeck, Dorset Council has taken on new drivers and has plans for new vehicles and technology to help out.

At a meeting of the council on Thursday 14th October 2020, councillors heard how the waste collection service had been struggling over the past few months due to staff shortages and vehicle breakdowns, particularly in Wareham but also at times in Swanage.

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Councillor Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for customer and community services, reported that plans are now underway to solve this – with both fresh recruitment completed and new vehicles on the way.

Staff shortages

The councillor explained that the waste depot at Wareham – which also serves Swanage – had difficulty finding new drivers during the lockdown earlier in the year. However, she added that, since then, new driver vacancies have been advertised and filled. She said:

“During the lockdown the depot has had considerable challenges with recruiting drivers for the round. They were often having to pull in crews from other depots as well as hiring agency staff to provide cover.

“This is never a satisfactory solution as the crews don’t know the round very well and missed bins can happen. However, on the 8th and 9th of this month we interviewed for three driver posts and were very pleased to have 22 applicants for the roles.

“The appointments have now been made and new staff will be starting shortly.”

Brown lid garden waste bin

Technical difficulties

Councillor Jill Haynes also highlighted the major technical difficulties faced by the waste collection services. Many of the vehicles are getting older and are prone to breaking down – a problem made worse that repairs cannot be done at Wareham.

She said:

“A number of the vehicles at the depot are coming to the end of their service life and are not as reliable as we would want.

“There is not a repair section at Wareham and the repairs have to be done at Weymouth depot which adds additional time off the road for even simple jobs.”

However, she added that the council has ordered new vehicles to replace the old ones and that a backup vehicle is on standby in case of a breakdown.

She added:

“Dorset Waste is fitting technology to all of its collection vehicles which will give us real time data on the rounds.

“Not only will this help us optimise routes in future, but it will allow the drivers to note if a bin was not out, because quite often people say they were when they weren’t, or not collected for any reason.

“Any route issues or breakdowns can then be added straight to the Dorset For You site so that people can quickly access information about what’s happening.”

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