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Only a quarter of garden waste collected on time in Basingstoke and Deane as crews struggle for motivation

Just 23 per cent of garden waste collections in Basingstoke and Deane were collected on time in June, it has been revealed.

Of the 38,000 collections, 29,000 were late or not collected at all.

Thirteen per cent of waste collections meanwhile were also missed, as the lid was lifted on the extent of the problems affecting the council’s waste contractor Serco.

Just 23% of green waste collections were on time in June
Just 23% of green waste collections were on time in June

Serco’s contract manager Aaron Straker said its crews were struggling for motivation as the company’s HGV driver shortage meant they were unable to complete all their rounds, creating a knock-on effect for the rest of the week and the following week.

Appearing in front of the council’s scrutiny committee, Mr Straker said Serco – which has an eight-year £44m joint contract with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hart District Council – was “struggling to contain the impact”.

He said: “There are days the crews know are difficult, so if you’re coming into a difficult day’s work, they’ve not got the greatest motivation to come into work and do the job and do it well.”

Mr Straker said Serco served 122,000 properties across the two councils. It has 115 staff employed, 40 drivers, 65 loaders and 40 refuse collection vehicles and had 766,000 collections each month, a combination of waste, recycling and garden.

It currently has 13 vacancies – five drivers, seven loaders and one supervisor.

He said the primary issues were with recycling and garden waste collections, particularly garden due to the “hierarchy of priorities”.

Mr Straker continued: “The driver shortage has really hurt us.

“The supervisor vacancy means we’ve not been able to get the teams out there monitoring.

“Moving zone to zone loses us time, and if we’re still doing Monday’s rounds we’re in the wrong area.”

The company has been reaching out to agencies for workers but had faced “notorious problems” whereby workers would be booked in and then not turn up.

He said Serco “completely understood” that the performance was poor, and apologised for the situation.

He said the company had a service improvement plan and had increased its hourly rates for drivers and loaders, adding that it had “done benchmark exercises and put ourselves above the average at the very least”.

A £250 referral bonus has been introduced, but it was highlighted by councillor David McIntyre (Con, Sherborne St John and Rooksdown) that Veolia – which Serco replaced as the council’s contractor – was offering a higher hourly rate, a £1,500 joining bonus, annual £500 retention bonus and £1,000 referral bonus.

When questioned on what rewards Serco was offering its staff to motivate them better, Mr Straker said t was offering additional training and opportunities to upskill to HGV drivers.

However, Andrew Shnuriwsky, the company’s manager for citizen’s services, warned of the dangers of incentivising completing rounds.

He said: “We have to balance that with health and safety implications.

“Any incentive that encourages somebody to finish a round also encourages them to rush through a round, and frankly, that’s dangerous.”

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