Here’s the latest on the impact of the HGV Driver shortage on our Garden Waste Service. We are finding our residents know what’s causing shortages and queues at petrol stations and who is responsible for it. However we think residents don’t want to see their Councillors engaging in argy bargy and blame shifting. They expect us to get on with our job. And that’s what we are doing. We are pulling all the levers under our control to make the Waste Collection service as resilient as possible and to restore the Garden Waste Collections at the earliest opportunity. We will keep you posted.Bruce McDonald, Leader of Elmbridge Liberal Democrat Council Group
Statement from the Elmbridge Administration
We don’t think our residents want their Councillors engaging in name calling or making claims that bear no relation to what they know to be reality. Therefore we will always try to stick to the facts.
At the Council meeting on 29th September the Elmbridge Conservatives chose to attack our handling of garden waste collections – currently suspended – as an example of our ‘uncaring’ Administration.
We’ve explained previously why the Council has reluctantly had to suspend garden waste collections. There is a national shortage of HGV drivers and until our contractors are able to fill vacancies we are prioritising fulfilment of our statutory duties to collect general waste, food and recycling from all the residents, businesses and institutions in the borough.
This appears to have passed by the Conservatives, whose out-of-touch approach to this issue seems to suggest that they don’t read the quality newspapers, watch TV news, or even check out the Council’s own website for the up-to-date information.
In the Council meeting, the Conservatives held up the suspension of paid-for doorstep garden waste collection as the biggest crisis facing local residents. Our response – we hope understandably – was somewhat dismissive. Perhaps they would like to tell that to the 200 Afghan refugees who have recently arrived here with nothing but the clothes they stand up in, or the thousands of isolated and vulnerable local residents that we have supported – and continue to help – throughout the pandemic, or the many more who are having to turn to charities like food banks and Citizens Advice as redundancies rise and household debt begins to mount. Suspension of garden waste collection is an inconvenience, to be sure, but in the overall scheme of things there are bigger issues facing our residents.
But let’s be clear about one thing: whilst we are dismissive of using garden waste collections for political gain, we are certainly NOT dismissive of the genuine inconvenience the suspension is causing for subscribers to the service. Anyone who witnessed the Council meeting will have heard Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Cllr Ashley Tilling, once again apologising sincerely for the disruption. He also outlined, in very measured terms, all the steps we are taking (as part of the group of four Surrey Councils who are party to the Joint Waste Solutions contract with Amey) to try to reinstate the service as soon as it is practical to do so. (https://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/garden-waste-service/garden-waste-faqs/ )
In the meantime, we are very grateful for the inspirational way so many of our residents have responded – the enterprising local groups who have organised their own private collections; kindly neighbours who are helping residents who can’t get to the tip; gardening novices who are trying composting for the first time or re-wilders who are building leaf and log piles for wildlife.
Considering the growing crisis in HGV drivers is now impacting on the petrol supply chain, we are baffled that the Conservatives have lambasted us for not being prepared to commit to a timetable for when the service will be re-instated. There is no crystal ball and, to coin a phrase: we will be led by data, not dates.
For our part we are getting on with pulling all the levers under our control to maintain the priority waste collection services and to build a resilient and robust service overall, so that we can restore garden waste collections at the earliest possible time. We will be unstinting in our efforts and keep you posted.