Refuse Collection in Elmbridge

Elmbridge Borough Council collects nearly a quarter of a million bins every fortnight: 63,000 refuse bins; 57,000 recycling bins; 106,000 food waste bins; and, 18,000 garden waste bins.

We take it for granted – and rightly so – because our bins are collected week in week out on the appointed day.  This has been the case for many years.  Okay the odd bin is missed – around 300 (1%) each day but they are almost always collected later that day or within 48 hours.  Last week the service was back to the standard we have been used to for years and this week it looks as if the new service will surpass the previous record of Veolia.  But what on earth happened in the last eight weeks?

Why did Elmbridge change the service provider?
In short, to improve quality and reduce costs.  The collection of waste is shared between Elmbridge borough and Surrey county.  We collect and Surrey disposes.  We could provide a better service at less cost if only one or other of us did the whole task but the national government does not allow us to do that. Elmbridge’s contract with Veolia was approaching its end as to a lesser extent were the contracts of the other members of what became the Joint Contract.

So we did the next best thing.  We joined with three other boroughs (Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking) along with Surrey county, to provide a better service at a lower cost.  It has been planned for over four years with all eight political parties at Elmbridge being in agreement.  Joint Contract was advertised nationally and internationally.  After exhaustive testing Amey was chosen as the new provider.  It was chosen not because it was the cheapest (it wasn’t) but because it appeared to offer the best quality of service.

What went wrong?
The week before the new contract came into effect, the service level for waste collection was running at 99.6%.  At present the service is running at 99.5%.  Veolia’s contract ended on Friday, 2 June.  At midnight the contract passed to Amey.  All of the Veolia staff were able to transfer to Amey (under TUPE Regulations) and many agreed to do so.  However, under the law staff are not compelled to work for the new provider, even if they said they would.  Unfortunately, six drivers did not turn up on the Monday.  From the first day a quarter of the drivers were not available.  Of course, backup agency drivers were brought in immediately but they cannot match the productivity of the drivers who knew the rounds well.

Why did we let ourselves be the guinea pig for the new contract?
The four boroughs in the scheme are joining at different times to coincide with the ending of each borough’s existing contractual arrangements.  Elmbridge was first and Woking will follow in September.  Being first – if it all goes well – can be an advantage but what if mistakes are made in Elmbridge but any lessons learnt only benefit the other boroughs?  To avoid this, it was suggested that Elmbridge might extend its contract with Veolia another year but this is not possible under public service tendering rules.  Indeed Veolia did not bid for the current joint contract.  It is already clear that Amey will treat Woking differently given that lessons learnt in Elmbridge.

What happened to the food waste collection?
Veolia collected food waste along with the refuse and recycling using one vehicle.  One week it would be food and refuse together and the next week food and recycling together – using separate compartments in the vehicle.  Amey planned to separate food waste collection from the other collections.  The reasons that Amey proposed this change was so that for each type of collection, be it refuse or food waste, a specific vehicle could be used thus optimising effectiveness. With a hybrid waste vehicle, one which has two or more separate collection spaces to keep them separate, one collection space will fill up before the other does.  This increases the number of trips to the tips. In changing the food waste collection Amey under provided the number of food waste collection rounds needed and subsequently had to increase the number from 3 to 5.

There are 10,000 food waste bins to be collected each day in Elmbridge.  Amey calculated, using their experience in similar locations elsewhere, that there would need to be three vehicles and thus Elmbridge was divided into fifteen rounds (three rounds a day for a week).  Unfortunately, on the first day only 65% of the food waste was collected.  Could this be a resource problem or the lack of good knowledge of the local area?  After the first Monday, the judgment was that it would improve the next day.  On Monday night there had been a storm thus making Tuesday’s collection difficult.  It was decided to take a view after Wednesday.  Because the collection rate had averaged 65% for three days it was decided to increase the number of food waste vehicles in week two from two vehicles to four vehicles.

It seems easy just to add an extra vehicle but Elmbridge had already been divided into fifteen rounds for food waste – now it had to be divided into twenty.  Each round taking as much time to collect from as any other round.  The staff now would have to deal with completely different rounds – even though effort was put into making them as similar to the previous week’s round as possible.  By the end of week two the food waste collection rate was up to 80%.  So another vehicle – making five vehicles – would be added for week three.  The rounds had to resized again because now there were twenty-four rounds across Elmbridge.

From week three the food waste collection level approached normal standards for nearly everyone but Elmbridge has a great number of hidden places – some not so hidden.  Whole streets in some cases remained undiscovered.  Marked out maps proved beneficial.  Despite this the missed bins operation was overwhelmed.

Why was my block of flats missed?
It is one thing to not to be able to locate places like “Hidden Cottage” and “Rogue’s Roost” but how could you miss a block of flats?  Or collect from three blocks but not the fourth?  Veolia used to collect waste from blocks of flats using dedicated vehicles.  Amey decided to integrate these locations in the normal rounds – they could be emptied by standard vehicles.  Although access to many blocks are relatively simple, some can be problematic, others have access restrictions.  If no-one was available to make access possible then they had to be missed until such time as access could be gained. These difficulties compounded the delays involved in the rounds.

What happened with collecting the missed bins?
Usually, the number of missed bins is very small and they can be collected on the day or the next working day.  Part of Amey’s proposed service was to introduce an integrated missed-bin collection service.  A resident would make a request for a missed bin to be collected online (or call customer services and it would be done on their behalf) and this information would pass directly to the cab driver.  Such a system was envisaged to allow for missed bins to be collected within hours rather than days.  Unfortunately, the system was not finished before the contract began and the old system had to used.  Combined with the large number of missed bins the usual collection system became overwhelmed.

Why did the catch-up take so long?
The necessity in the early days of the Joint Contract to catch up on a large number of missed bins and missed roads and the under resourcing of certain aspects of the collection teams placed enormous pressure on the daily collection system which has only reduced following the provision of additional resources.

Amey quickly began to increase overtime working later in the afternoon and on Saturdays.  However, the recent planning conditions place on the use of the depot meant that the usage of the refuse trucks could not be maximized.  A school has been built on the route to the depot and access to the depot is not allowed during school pick and drop-off times.  Whilst under normal working conditions this is this planning condition is an inconvenience.  However, in times of maximum catch-up it makes a big impact on the depot.

Why were garden waste bins left behind?
Amey collection teams were provided with information on had paid their subscriptions for garden waste collection but found it difficult to apply these at street level and ended up collecting all garden waste bins regardless of whether or not they were on the list of payers. This added more time to the completion of the rounds and in Amey collecting more garden waste than they were contracted for requiring additional trips to the tip.

The additional time spent on the rounds resulted in rounds not being completed and whole roads being missed.

What happened to communications?
Clearly Elmbridge borough should have the contact details of every household in Elmbridge easily available.  But until the last six months this has not been seen as important.  Had the borough had this information residents in particular streets or block of flats could have been kept up to date (for example by email) as the situation changed around them.  It is bad enough not having one’s waste bin collected but not knowing what is planned to make matters right can be even more frustrating.

What will be done about the level of service in June?
Clearly Elmbridge, through the Joint Waste Solutions (acting on our behalf) will be discussing with Amey the compensation that will be offered considering the poor service in June and the less than acceptable service in July.  Compensation will be agreed based on the 15 Key performance Indicators set out in the Joint Contract.

Where are Elmbridge now with collections?
As of 4 August 2017 the performance of the waste collection service in Elmbridge has significantly improved. Of the 120,776 bins that were due to be emptied last week, missed collection reports from residents indicate that 99.3% were emptied on time. Of the bins that were missed, the majority were returned to within 48 hours.

While this is a considerable step forward we know there is more to do to reach the 99.9% collection target and the teams at Elmbridge Council, at Joint Waste Solutions and Amey are continuing to work hard to achieve that. Any remaining gaps in knowledge and information about the routes and properties are being identified and addressed, so every day the crews are becoming more familiar and knowledgeable about their routes.

Next steps
The transition to the new contract has been more challenging than anticipated and the Council are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused some of our residents and continue to be grateful for resident’s understanding while the issues are being addressed.

We are confident that the service is now on the right track. Elmbridge Council will continue to work together with Joint Waste Solutions and Amey to reach the target and deliver a high performing collection service.

If your bin is missed please report it via the website or call us and Elmbridge Council will make sure that it is emptied as quickly as possible.

Dominic Raab backs the Heathrow Expansion – the Liberal Democrats will oppose it

Dominic Raab published a piece in last month’s Your Elmbridge outlining the so-called benefits of the Heathrow Expansion.


Read above, or view here on page 20 of 23

As the Liberal Democrat candidate, I find it imperative to respond. A third runway at Heathrow would have a serious negative effect on our community, both during and after construction. The promises are a premature ‘take-off’ and we need to bring the discussion back down to the ground!

Let’s be quite clear at the outset – the case for a third runway at Heathrow has not been made; in fact, the opposite. The national government’s report identifies Gatwick as the better economic choice. Since its release, the figures for Heathrow have been thoroughly dismantled by impartial experts. The government has halved the estimated benefits. Transport for London has tripled the projected costs. On the government’s own figures, the net benefit over 60 years is a mere £6bn.

Have a look at the proposed work.

The runway (red) cuts across the M25 requiring demolition of many homes and businesses and terminates near a nature reserve. The motorway will be rerouted, tunnelling underneath the runway and other major road works will be necessary (blue).

A new Heathrow ‘hub’ (orange) replaces a golf course to the north. The words “amenity to residents” seem to have disappeared from the Raab radar screen! The M25 upheaval will spread across Elmbridge. The knock-on economic costs have not been factored into the decision.

Dominic Raab’s claim that a 54% increase in aircraft traffic will lead to reduced aircraft noise beggars belief! Homes and businesses near Heathrow will need heavy soundproofing, building work better employed constructing new homes. But, for a huge area under new flight paths including Elmbridge, if you want to open your windows, sit on your patio around the barbeque or visit local nature reserves, well it’s ear-defenders for you. The threat to impose fines on the airport for noise infringements won’t benefit the residents and will just be passed on.

More empty promises are made. “No increase in road traffic”! The M25 and interconnecting roads across our community are frequently gridlocked focused around Heathrow junctions. “Air quality will be maintained”! Currently, local air quality frequently breaks health guidelines. A 54% increase in air traffic will make both aspects worse.

The Transport Minister “Suggested that a new rail link connecting Surrey directly to the airport is under consideration”! If this doubly hedged ‘carrot’ happens, a large intermediate transfer hub would appear somewhere in leafy Surrey and a cross-country tract would be converted from nature, farm, housing and business to railway. Shifting the problem does not solve it.

The Heathrow Authority will only meet a small fraction of the cost of the project – billions will come from taxation. But in the time since the start of the decision process, aircraft and communication technologies have been transformed. Do we need this runway at all? With improving seat booking, current passenger capacity would increase by 30%. Superliners that are lighter, quieter and more efficient raise this figure even more, also reducing environmental pollution. Concrete mixer unnecessary! Put your wallet away!

Elmbridge has long been an area of outstanding beauty and tranquillity with its rivers, parks and commons. This is under real threat. It is not too late for us to make our concerns known.

Andrew Davis
andrew-davis.org.uk

Refuse bins change colour

This takes me back.  My first job after full time education was to be a binman (actually a road-sweep but I got promotion).  Back then one had to hold a skip consisting of two bin-loads on the shoulder – very tough job – only the strongest survived.  Today the heavy lifting is by the bin-lorry itself – but the smell remains the same.

To reduce our refuse collection costs and save £millions in the process, Elmbridge has combined its refuse collection service with three other boroughs.

The first change is that all new non-recycling bins will be grey across all four boroughs to reduce purchase costs.

The current charges for refuse collection varies from borough to borough therefore there will be a transition while we all adopt a standard set of charges.  These will begin in June 2017 when Elmbridge enters the new agreement.

Wheelie bin charges.  The new standard charges for new and replacement wheellie bins is £25 for a 180 litre refuse bin; £30 for a 240 litre bin; and £60 for a 360 litre bin.

Garden Waste Collection Service.  For new subscribers the charges will be £45 for the first wheeled bin and £30 per additional wheeled bin.  For existing customers, it was recommended that the Council set the annual subscription charge at £40.   A concessionary subscriptions would apply.

Special Collection Service. £30 for the first item with a charge of £10 for each additional item.  It was also recommended that a concessionary discounts would apply.

Planning Compliance

One of the four key goals for the new Liberal Democrat/Residents administration was the improvement in planning enforcement.

Two measures have already been put in place: to ensure a more communicative service; and, the redrafting of the Elmbridge’s Planning Enforcement Charter in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The borough is to rename the team as the Planning Compliance Team. This would put greater emphasis on ensuring people complied with plans, conditions and the law, with enforcement being the end result in only the minority of cases.

The new team will have access to a branded vehicle in order to remove incorrectly placed estate agents boards and other illegal advertisements, which they were currently unable to do as easily and regularly using staffs’ own vehicles. In addition, staff will also have their own uniform, in common with other borough staff carrying out compliance activities.

The new team will introduce regular ‘surgeries’ and/or participation in existing events such as Let’s Talk Elmbridge in order to provide a greater and more visible presence with the public.

To achieve this the number of compliance staff will be increased 33%.

 

Mole Valley Conservation

Over the years the Lower Mole Partnership (LMP) has built up a large and enthusiastic volunteer group which has carried out a wide range of tasks to implement improvements to the local countryside, four days a week, including weekends, throughout the year.

LMP has also developed a broad spread of skills for tackling specialist countryside management work including landscape enhancements, woodland management and pond restoration as well as access initiatives such as the Thames Down Link footpath.

In 2011/12, as part of the then Conservative administration budget savings exercise, the borough’s grant to the LMP was reduced by £15,000.  The Liberal Democrat/Residents administration has decided to increase the borough’s grant to LMP by £6,280.  This action not only supports the active engagement of many people into nature conservancy but save the borough in task that it would otherwise have to take on itself.

Notice Board for Claygate Village.

A new notice board for Claygate has been erected at the end of Coverts Road today. This was created for the benefit of the local residents (who live some distance from the centre of the village) as well as the many visitors that come here. Since living in this part of Claygate, I have noticed that many pedestrians, riders and cyclists are completely confused where they are in relation to the centre of Claygate when they exit the track at the Holroyd Road end of Coverts Road. The track known as the ‘BOAT’ which has no vehicular access, is used by the public mainly for hiking, running, cycling, dog walking or horse riding. This track links Claygate with Esher and also comes out on Fairoak Lane between Oxshott and Malden Rushett, depending on the route you take. Claygate village centre and train station is some distance from Coverts Road so the new board has a detailed map showing your exact location.

As you stand in front of it, you can clearly see what can be discovered in the surrounding area. There are numerous footpaths and bridleways, flora and fauna as well as directions to the village itself. Claygate is full of restaurants, pubs, cafes and village shops. It is surrounded by beautiful countryside views, walks and rides. It is well worth a day out, whichever mode of transport you choose. With the financial help of Surrey County Council, Claygate Parish Council and with a personal contribution of my own, the board has been created, developed and finally delivered on site today.

Thanks must go to Sarah Kingsley from Eclipse Creative for her patience and wonderful art skills. Also thanks to Elmbridge’s Countryside Officer Dave Page. Dave originally helped me to create the map, adding to my ideas with his in depth knowledge of the local countryside due to both his keen interest and occupation. Dave and his co workers from the Elmbridge Countryside Team put the board in place this morning. Residents will now have the benefit of seeing at a glance what is going on in their village community. Horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and hikers will find new tracks, wildlife and plants as well as discovering a little about the local history of Claygate. Thank you to everyone that has helped this community idea finally come to fruition.

Please click here to see the map: Claygate Coverts Road Map (004)

Coverts Road Notice Board

Coverts Road Notice Board Claygate

 

Heathrow

heathrow_3_750Heathrow was a poor locational choice for a new major airport even when it opened in 1944 and replaced Croydon and Hendon airports.  Also the land for this new London Airport was forcibly purchased by the national government under special powers – the Defence of the Realm Act – without compensation to the landowners specifically to avoid public opposition.

A similar approach is happening today.  Notwithstanding, the impact of an enlarged airport on noise, air and ground pollution the proposed airport expansion does not make economic sense.  The assumptions used in the Davies report  – discount rates for investment, payback periods and PFI rates etc could be considered designed to ensure that the recommendation of the report  could only be Heathrow.

If it is considered that south-east England needs extra airport capacity then it should be in the Thames estuary if at all and while such an airport is being built then perhaps Gatwick could be expanded as a less dreadful choice than Heathrow.

At present Heathrow is running at too high a capacity – far higher than other airports. Heathrow should have the number of flights reduced so that it ordinarily runs at 80% capacity.  At such capacity the amount of stacking would be reduced, thus dramatically reducing air pollution and noise (saving fuel too) and also the airport would be able to cope better when the weather is not so favourable.

To do this the national government  – with one year’s notice  – should randomly withdraw six slots (flight movements in or out) a month (a week would be better but more unsettling for the industry).  The reason that withdrawn slots should be randomly chosen is to avoid any possibility that airlines could be seen to affect the choice of slot to be removed.  At the same time four of those slots would be leased by auction for, say, five years to the highest bidder.  The revenue would not go to the airport but to the state.  The revenues could be partly used to either compensate those who lived near the airport before it was built or to develop better landside connections to reduce air pollution from arriving road traffic or both.

Elmbridge Sport hub EIA

environmental impact assessmentAfter the decision by the full Planning Committee regarding the sports hub, we have now received the outcome from the Secretary Of State regarding the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and he has decided that an EIA is required.  The essence of what the Secretary Of State said is:

“Whilst this is a finely balanced case, the proposal does raise concerns to suggest the potential for significant environmental impacts through surface disturbance of the former landfill site, uncertainty about the extent of the contamination of the site and the potential for gas migration to both the River Thames and nearby residential properties.”

Whilst the borough is disappointed by this decision, especially as the issues mentioned above have already been addressed in the planning report, Elmbridge has begun on the EIA exercise as promised at the Committee meeting.  The EIA will be the subject of public consultation and will be presented to the Planning Committee in due course.  I will let you know timescale as soon as I have it.

Help combat dog fouling in Elmbridge

Dog Fouling Elmbridge is launching a campaign to target dog fouling and its antisocial impact on local communities. The borough is asking local people to become the eyes of their community and report irresponsible dog owners.

The new campaign will be launched on Wednesday, 22 July at The Riverside walk in Hersham. A photo launch will be attended by Councillors, Council Officers and representatives of local resident groups and businesses who are fed up with the way many parts of the borough has become a fouling hotspot.

Dog fouling impacts all of society. Not only can dog mess carry disease but it also turns people away from enjoying our natural environment. People living close to parks and green spaces feel that this is a growing blight on the area in which they live.

Posters warning dog owners that their actions are being watched will be put up around Elmbridge. They also remind owners that not cleaning up after their pet carries a £50 fine. Postcards encouraging residents to report irresponsible owners to the council will be distributed to community groups, schools, libraries and pet shops.

Côte Brasserie comes to Weybridge

Cote  Brasserie-01The restaurant chain has applied for planning permission to combine two shops: Sevenoaks Sound and Vision and the Nail Company beauty salon into one to provide a larger retail unit.  One of the problems for Weybridge has been the lack of larger retail units, so that combining neighbouring units might be a way forward – as Boots, Laura Ashley and the Slug and Lettice have done in the past.

If Côte Brasserie opens then 41, 43, 45, 47 and 47 Church Street will be a row of restaurants.  We do like eating out in Weybridge.