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Denbighshire North Wales Politics

‘Thousands’ of bin collections missed in Denbighshire

DENBIGHSHIRE’S chief executive has admitted the council ‘underestimated’ the time bin and recycling rounds would take after ‘thousands’ of collections have been missed during the last two weeks.

Chief exec Graham Boase has now apologised to residents on behalf of the council and said the authority was doing all it could to ensure bins are emptied.

Mr Boase denied Denbighshire had a rat problem and maintained the county’s new Trolibocs system was the right thing to do, as the recycling scheme would see costs cut and funds raised.

He also defended complaints from councillors that Denbighshire’s head of recycling and the councillor responsible for the portfolio were both on holiday during the first week of the rollout.

The council introduced its new Trolibocs system, which collects paper, plastic, metal, food cartons, and glass, on June 3.

Denbighshire now expects residents to separate the items themselves.

Non-recyclable ‘black bin’ collections are now every four weeks as opposed to the old two-week system whilst a weighted hessian bag is used for cardboard.

Mr Boase said: “The first thing I want to do is apologise to the residents of Denbighshire who have had missed collections.

“In rolling out our new system, we’ve encountered some issues and problems, and that has resulted in people having missed collections.

For that I apologise. I understand the concern and upset that causes the residents. At the same time, we care as well as staff and managers, and we want to get it right. It is a heartfelt and sincere apology for the upset and concern we’ve caused for not collecting.

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“We haven’t got exact figures, but if we’ve got 43,000 households to collect from, so the vast majority have had their collection in accordance with the collection timetable, but when you get into the 5% or 10% that haven’t – and I don’t know the exact figures, but let’s use that as an example – 5% or 10% of 43,000, you are getting into large numbers of properties, aren’t you?

“So the majority has gone well, but we’ve had some issues with the minority. But we accept it is a sizable minority that runs into thousands of households that haven’t had their waste collected.”

When asked if reports of rats had increased, Mr Boase said they had not.

“Absolutely, categorically, no, we do not have problems with rats,” said Mr Boase.

“We are receiving no more reports of rats now than any other reports of rats periodically. We do not regret the decision to roll this out. This new system is exactly the right thing to do.”

He added: “The issue with the new system is that – when you are rolling out to 43,000 houses, in the diversity of rural areas such as down in the south of the county compared to some of the urban areas in the north – the reason we’ve missed collections is some of the rounds have taken longer than we thought they were going to take. That is in part because of the extra recycling our residents have done. So the wagons have filled up perhaps more than they were going to, which means they have to return to the depot to unload to go back out again.

“We’ve probably underestimated the time it takes to do various rounds. There have been a couple of other minor issues, but that is the predominant issue. We don’t regret it. It is the right thing to do. Separating our recycling materials will result in a far better product that we can sell, and we will sell it because it is a higher grade of recycling material with value.”

Mr Boase thanked the recycling staff on the ground who he said were doing a fantastic job and was concerned negative social media activity didn’t impact their morale.

The chief executive also responded to criticism that the head of the recycling service and the cabinet member responsible for recycling, Cllr Barry Mellor, were both away on holiday during the first week of the rollout.

Mr Boase explained both the head of service and the cabinet member had booked ‘longstanding leave’ arranged long before the rollout occurred – with the head of service being off to attend a D-Day remembrance service.

Ruthin councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts said he was glad the chief executive had apologised but claimed unemptied bins and uncollected recycling was affecting the mental health of Denbighshire residents.

“I’m glad that the chief exec has apologised for the massive issues there has been with the bins over the last two weeks,” said Cllr Roberts.

“I’m still concerned that I have houses in Ruthin that have not had a collection for two weeks, and I urge they make this a priority. I have every sympathy with the workers on the ground with the work they are doing in very difficult circumstances, and I sincerely hope they will be able to rectify the situation as soon as possible.”

He added: “I haven’t been involved in the planning personally, but at the end of the day, you can only measure on results, and we’ve gone from a situation where all the bins in Denbighshire were being emptied consistently, and they haven’t been now. That’s the evidence we’ve got before us.

“I urge the council to pull out all stops because the mental health of certain people not having their bins collected is affecting them, and it is really important that Denbighshire and the leadership team get this right.”