Extra waste centre slots available at West Berkshire tips following driver shortages
Extra visits to West Berkshire waste centres have been made available after green bin and food waste collections were suspended in the district this week.
West Berkshire Council took "the difficult decision" to suspend collections on Tuesday owing to staff shortages caused by a number of waste truck drivers and operatives being pinged by the Track and Trace system.
The current nationwide HGV driver shortage, through a combination of Covid-19 and Brexit, has also affected the service.
The council said that suspending the green bin garden waste collection service would free up more staff to cover rubbish and recycling collections.
The garden waste service is scheduled to resume on August 3, meaning one collection will be missed.
Waste manager at West Berkshire Council, Kofi Adu-Gyamfi said the on-going disruptive effect of the Track and Trace notification system was "really challenging the resolve of the waste sector and every supply chain across the country."
He added that contractors could previously bring in agency staff from elsewhere, "but in this scenario we have trucks ready to go but there are simply not enough drivers spare that we can bring in."
Councils across England have suspended their garden waste services, including neighbouring Reading Borough Council.
Mr Adu-Gyamfi said the decision was made after recycling was unable to be collected in Pangbourne, Theale, Tilehurst and Upper Basildon and Lower Basildon on Monday.
He apologised to residents for the inconvenience and asked them move their recycling back to their properties as would not be collected until the week of August 2.
In the meantime, the weekly restriction imposed on visiting household waste recycling centres in Newbury and Padworth is being removed during the two week collection suspension.
"Residents can make as many online bookings as they need. We're asking that they should only make bookings that they actually need," Mr Adu-Gyamfi said.
Green bin and food waste collections were suspended for two weeks in January to enable crews to catch up with a backlog of waste and recycling after Christmas and a number of collection crews having to self-isolate then too.
West Berkshire residents pay £50 for their garden waste to be collected every two weeks after the council decided in 2018 it couldn’t afford to continue a garden waste service without a separate charge.
Mr Adu-Gyamfi said that garden waste had been chosen for suspension as it was subscription service and wouldn't affect as many households compared to suspending recycling collections.
The council said it would not be offering a refund on the postponed service and subscribers can leave up to three untied bags of garden waste beside the green bin at their next collection on resumption.
The council said in a statement: "Our collection crews have been working hard to maintain waste services throughout the pandemic and we have worked closely with our contractor to ensure all other options have been exhausted before suspending this service for a short period.
"The limited number of staff still able to work are doing their best to keep these essential services going, but as you can imagine that has been made more difficult with the very hot weather we’ve been experiencing."