Basingstoke and Deane garden waste collection service could resume next week, says leader
The leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is “hopeful” that the council’s beleaguered garden waste collection service will resume next week.
The service, which costs residents £60 per brown bin per year, has been suspended since the beginning of October after the council’s waste contractor Serco was hit by a shortage of HGV drivers, with many choosing to work instead for supermarkets.
Since then, Serco has been hiring and training new drivers after increasing salaries by 50 per cent.
Conservative leader of the council, Ken Rhatigan, said he hopes the service will resume next week, but is still awaiting confirmation from Serco.
Speaking at an Ashford Hill with Headley Parish Council meeting, he said: “The reality is the service you and other people pay for is not acceptable but there’s very little we could do about it.
“It will be restarted next week I think for garden waste and people will be able to get rid of all their debris.
“We’re waiting for confirmation. I’m hoping to know by the end of this week when the restart time is.
“They’re training the drivers and the lifters so it’s when they’re ready.
“Training takes time and they have to pass that training – they can’t just do two weeks and go.”
The council has attracted criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed that residents who don’t continue with their garden waste collection subscription will be unable to reclaim the missed collections.
Residents have missed around three collections – in addition to further missed collections in July when the ‘pingdemic’ caused many drivers to self-isolate.
However, residents are only entitled to the missed collections if they extend their subscription as, the council said, “extensions can only be applied to active garden waste subscriptions.”
The subscription renewal date will then be pushed back.
Ashford Hill with Headley parish councillor Kathryn Saunders said the most frequent complaint she heard from residents was that they felt forgotten about, after the temporary halt in the garden waste service coincided with the introduction in August of a £7 fee to use the Newtown Road household waste recycling centre in West Berkshire.
This decision came after Hampshire County Council refused to continue paying West Berkshire Council £175,000 for Hampshire residents to access the Newtown Road tip.
She said: “At the same time we couldn’t use the Newtown Road tip, our garden bins weren’t being collected.
“We’re all paying the same council tax but we’re not getting the same service.”
However, Mr Rhatigan said: “Of course it’s difficult that some of the services we provide are based in Basingstoke and we are on the edge of the borough.
“If you’re on the edge of the beach you don’t get the big waves.”