Torbay bin delays to continue

Torbay Weekly

Some Torbay residents will be having up a rubbish time for a little while longer, with the council still behind on bin collections because of staff shortages.

The council is behind on its collections “by around 20 rounds” as of Monday morning (14 March).

Nineteen collection rounds are usually completed every day.

A spokesperson for Torbay Council said that nine members of staff at SWISCo, the council’s waste collection company, are off work ill. They said the council needs “at least another seven HGV drivers” to cover for sickness and leave “especially as covid-19 is causing more sickness than normal again.”

The spokesperson added: “The good news is, as announced last week, we have successfully recruited six new waste and recycling employees so far, with plans to take on more.

“We hope the employment of these new staff will help with the current delays to collections and we would like to thank Torbay residents for their ongoing patience.”

That patience is thin among some residents. Last month a man who was furious that his bins had not been collected for three weeks dumped his rubbish at the entrance to Torquay’s town hall.

It is not the first time this year SWISCo has been struggling to keep up.

The council was more than 38 collections behind at some points in January because of what they claimed was an “unprecedented situation” with high covid cases.

Two months on, the council doesn’t yet have the staff in place to manage similarly high case rates.

Covid has spiked across Devon recently. In the most recent complete seven days period (to Wednesday, March 9), the Bay recorded 987 new cases and has an infection rate of 725 per 100,000 of the population, much higher than the national average (from Monday, March 14) of 572 per 100,000.

On Friday, March 11, Councillor Mike Morey (Independent, Furzeham with Summercombe) cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and culture issued another apology on behalf of the council.

He said: “We once again apologise to residents for the ongoing delays to recycling collections caused by sickness and staff shortages.

“We want to assure you that we are on the case, looking at the issue and recruiting to the waste and recycling team. We hope this will soon improve the local situation”

“We ask you to please bear with us as we continue to catch up on collections, leave your recycling ready for collection and we will be with you as soon as possible.”