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Confusion as refuse collection changes by West Suffolk Council lead to delays

Hundreds of bin collections have been missed in the wake of refuse collection changes rolled out by West Suffolk Council last month.

The startling total emerged after 150 bins were missed in one village alone – with some residents told they would have to wait weeks for blue bin collections.

West Suffolk Council admitted this week it had already dealt with 430 reports of missed bins following schedule changes implemented on November 11.

ROUGHAM: Blue bins left uncollected in Kingshall Green area..Gerald Roberts Picture by Mark Westley. (22715282)
ROUGHAM: Blue bins left uncollected in Kingshall Green area..Gerald Roberts Picture by Mark Westley. (22715282)

A spokeswoman said the number of complaints was ‘very small’, given the council’s refuse collectors served 81,000 households. She praised the hard work of crews during the transition.

But Rougham resident Gerald Roberts contacted the Bury Free Press ‘in desperation’ when his blue bin was left for three weeks following its last collection on November 5.

“The bin was crammed full. With the best will in the world, even though I cleaned the recycling waste, I’ve been concerned the extra bags I was given could attract rats,” said Mr Roberts.

“There is a security issue as well. With the bins left out, people could think you are not there, making the property a target for rural crime. And, of course, we are paying for this service in our rates.”

When blue bins in the hamlet were missed on November 20 he contacted customer services at West Suffolk Council, but was told he would have to wait until December 4 for a collection. “I know this is unimportant to most people, but it’s something creating a problem here. We live in a rural area – okay, we’re reconciled to that – but we don’t get any services apart from the bin collection and I’m getting a third-rate service.

“You could call it a bit rubbish,” said Mr Roberts.

A West Suffolk Council spokeswoman apologised for the inconvenience.

“We have taken immediate action to understand what went wrong with attempts to collect his waste,” she said.

According to the council, the Rougham crew was unable to complete its round in the first week following the changes, missing 150 households, but most of the missed bins were collected the following day.

Peter Langdon, Rougham Parish Council chairman, said bins had been emptied as expected in his half of the village, however he was aware of problems elsewhere in Rougham.

“There has been confusion. The first week after the changes, when I went out in the village there were bins out: black bins, blue bins and brown bins. Everyone seemed to put all their bins out and hope for the best,” said Cllr Langdon.

Confusion over the changes has been widespread, despite the council spending £22,000 on notification letters.

In parts of Bury St Edmunds residents have been putting out both blue and black bins for their revised collection days.

West Suffolk councillor David Nettleton, whose collection has changed from Monday to Thursday, said: “In about six months I’ll get the hang of it.

“It is an initiative test from the council and I am sort of half passing it by putting both bins out. That’s what many people are doing right across the town. Of course, it will all change again over Christmas anyway.”

The West Suffolk Council spokeswoman thanked residents for ‘bearing with us’ and refuse crews for their hard work, adding bin collection errors had been made by crews and residents.

Following inquiries by the Bury Free Press, Mr Roberts' bin was finally emptied last Wednesday.

District councillor and Rougham resident Sara Mildmay-White said: "Overall the change over with the collections has gone well considering what a massive piece of work it all was.

"Some blue bins in Rougham were not collected on the day due to slippage in time – they did manage to get to me and just beyond. I rang the office and was assured the rest would be emptied the next day, which they were. I can only apologise ifthis resident’s bin was missedand I understand that has been rectified.

"I think our bin men are to be congratulated on the work they do and how cheerful they are when you chat to them."