Complaints over rubbish collections in Bristol have doubled since contract switch
COMPLAINTS about household rubbish collections in Bristol have more than doubled since a new contractor took over the running of the service.
Since May Gurney took charge of picking up waste and recycling from outside homes in November last year, complaints to Bristol City Council have risen sharply.
Before the company replaced rival waste firm Sita, the authority had received an average of 65 complaints a month over the past two years. But between November and February, the figure rose to an average of 139.
The worst months for complaints were December and January, when 170 and 173 were recorded. There was a slight improvement in February, when there were 149 complaints.
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The figures were released to the Evening Post after a request was made to the council under the Freedom of Information Act.
Since November, residents have complained of missed collections, partial collections, bin men refusing to collect waste which is not put out correctly and an inadequate response to complaints.
City councillor Siobhan Kennedy-Hall accused binmen of mixing waste which can be recycled with household rubbish, while fellow city councillor Neil Harrison said he had received more complaints on waste in two months than he had in the previous four years.
The £96 million contract with Norwich-based May Gurney to manage Bristol’s waste collection, street cleansing and winter maintenance for the next seven years was announced in July last year.
The city council says it expected teething problems as part of the “bedding in” period for May Gurney.
James Easey, spokesman for the authority, said: “The contract with May Gurney began on November 1, and collection day changes soon followed to streamline the service. On 30 January, the new expanded services began being rolled-out to include plastics and TetraPaks.
“Because of these major changes there have been a small number of initial problems with some missed collections out of the 180,000 homes reached. These occurred in the highest numbers when the Christmas and New Year collections changed days of collection, at the same time as day changes were being rolled out for some residents.
“More than 99 per cent of all the waste and recycling collections are being made on time and in line with the schedule, however, we are working hard to improve this and May Gurney have recently appointed four new supervisors as part of a Cleaner Streets Taskforce to target the 0.3 per cent of collections that have been missed.
“Recycling rates have recently hit 53 per cent, which exceeds Government targets. £2.5 million a year was saved by the council on the contract which will help safeguard other service areas during this difficult economic climate.
“We would like to thank residents for their patience during the roll-out of this major service change and apologise for those which have been missed.”
Residents in North Somerset have also reported problems with May Gurney’s service.
In January, the Post reported that the company had been fined £61,000 for getting behind with collections following the Christmas and New Year break.