South Ribble Council give update after warning that bin collections might be suspended due to driver shortage
Bin collections in South Ribble were nearly suspended by the Council last week due to a shortage of drivers - but what is the situation like now?
In an open letter to the Government on Friday, August 6, the Council said its driver shortage was "now at crisis point" and household bin collections in the borough had become "unsustainable".
It warned that residents "faced losing basic local services" and bin collections were on the verge of being suspended, beginning with its green waste service.
The Council said it had struggled to recruit new HGV drivers due to a national shortage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, and had appealed directly to the Government to take action to fix the situation.
Today (Friday, August 13) - a week after the announcement - the authority said it has been able to "manage the situation so far" and has maintained a full waste collection service.
But it warned the situation is "extremely challenging" and the borough's collection crews remain chronically in need of qualified HGV drivers.
Waste crews usually require around 15 drivers for their rounds, but in the last two weeks they have been around two to four drivers short, said the Council.
Council leader Paul Foster said efforts are being made to plug the gaps and FCC Environment, the waste management company contracted to staff the vehicles, are "actively working with agencies to recruit new drivers".
He added that the Government has yet to respond to South Ribble' s concerns after its appeal for action was delivered to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week.
Councillor Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: "As we highlighted last week the shortage of HGV drivers is a national problem and affecting local authorities and businesses right across the country.
"We have been able to get enough staff to drive the wagons but the situation is extremely challenging and we are awaiting a response from the Government.
"We’ve been managing this on a daily basis with our contractor FCC Environment who empty the bins on our behalf and thanks to the hard work of everyone involved and our waste collection crews we are able to continue with all our bin collections as normal.
"If the situation changes then we will let everyone know."
What will happen if South Ribble's green waste collection service is suspended?
The Post asked the Council what would happen if it was forced to suspend its green waste service due to the driver shortage.
Would households paying for the service be refunded?
Coun Foster said: "We are doing all we can to ensure all collections are maintained, so unless the situation changes again with our drivers we cannot predict if or when we may have to suspend collections.
"If we do have to suspend garden waste collections we will look at what we do to recompense garden waste subscribers in time for renewals once we know how long collections are impacted for."
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