Basingstoke and Deane residents being charged to replace bins lost by council waste contractor Serco
Residents are being forced to pick up the cost of replacing bins misplaced by Serco staff on collection rounds, a senior councillor has said.
In an impassioned speech in a scrutiny meeting on the failures of Serco’s waste collection service, Paul Harvey (BDI, Norden) called on the waste contractor to surrender the contract.
He said a lot of the issues facing Serco predated the pandemic, adding that residents had experienced problems with the company since it took over the contract in 2018.
He said: “You’re doing too much for too little.
“You’re thin on the ground and have been since you took on the contract.
“I’ve got residents telling me about flats and communal bins that have literally been left for months, and the van is driving past them, not even bothering with them.
“Residents left with broken glass all over the pathway, left behind after the trucks drive off.
“Residents having to pick up rubbish, dumped out of the bins as they’re being put in the vans, and our street cleaners having to go around picking up the rubbish Serco operatives have left all over our pavements.
“Examples where bins are left all over the estates, and people having to run around looking for where on Earth their bin has gone, because the staff are not putting them back in the appropriate places.
“Then, when they can’t find them, our residents are being charged the pleasure of replacing the bins your staff have lost.”
A brown bin for garden waste currently costs £36.05 to replace, while a 140-litre black bin for waste costs £50 to replace.
Mr Harvey said the issues were borough wide.
He added that he didn’t think the service was “fit for purpose”, saying: “My honest truth would be that I would quite like you to surrender the contract.
“I feel very strongly that our residents are not getting value for money.”
The contract is up for renewal in 2026.
Serco contracts manager Aaron Straker apologised, and said the company needed to get up to its supervisor levels in order to get them out on the street managing the crews.
He said: “Having the knowledge that the supervisor is around the next corner is not how we want our crews to feel, but it puts it in the mind that they need to be doing their job properly.
“The supervisor will be checking on these things.”
The council’s cabinet member for resident services Rebecca Bean (Con, Hatch Warren and Beggarwood) said: “The council provides a highly valued weekly waste and fortnightly recycling collection service to residents in the borough.
"While there is a charge for black bins, residents benefit from free recycling bins and glass crates, in line with our Climate Emergency declaration.
“New bins have a projected lifespan of between seven and 10 years. Many of the bins in the borough were originally supplied to our residents over 20 years ago and are likely to have become brittle making them prone to breakage.
“Other than bins which have fallen into the back of the collection lorry, residents are responsible for replacing their bins and there are concessionary rates for low income households.
"Our crews are required to report any bins that have fallen into the back of a collection lorry and these will be replaced free of charge.
"If you see this happen, please report it to us immediately by phoning 01256 844844.”