MP Norman Baker slams Wealden council over bins

Norman Baker
Norman Baker
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Polegate MP Norman Baker has criticised Wealden District Council for not resolving the ongoing issues with the new refuse collection service across the district after problems ran into a 13th week.

Residents of Polegate, Alfriston and East Dean have repeatedly suffered from missed collections and inconsistent service, Mr Baker said.

Wealden District Council launched a new joint waste scheme with Eastbourne, Hastings, and Rother under contractor Kier but the scheme ran into trouble with some waste and recycling not collected on time.

Mr Baker has now raised the issue with Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He said he highlighted the negative effects the situation is having on residents and claimed there were spiralling costs associated with the mishandling of the changeover, and asked Mr Pickles to intervene.

Mr Baker said: “I am stunned that even after previous assurances problems still persist.

“I have been in contact with Wealden repeatedly over the past thirteen weeks and have received the same repeated assurances that this problem will be resolved. Thirteen weeks on and we are still here, this is simply not good enough. It has gone on long enough and I have therefore raised this issue with the Secretary of State.”

Cllr Rowena Moore, the portfolio holder responsible for waste management, said she was ‘disappointed’ with Mr Baker’s comments.

She said: “I am disappointed that Mr Baker is seeking to make political capital out of the implementation of the Joint Waste Contract. The new waste arrangements for Wealden, Hastings, Rother and Eastbourne are already bringing about a significant increase in the amount of waste that can be recycled and the contract reduces the cost of the waste service to the taxpayer. That the arrangements have had operational difficulties in their early weeks is not denied by anyone at the council or Kier. Kier have accepted responsibility for the shortcomings so far and have invested considerable resources to help improve the situation. At the moment over 98 per cent of households in the district are getting their waste and recycling collected on time. I know that this is still not good enough and I am working with Kier to put it right.”

Kier said it apologised for the inconvenience some residents were experiencing.

It said local authorities have to introduce new recycling and waste services in order to meet Government and EU targets and changing the waste service is a complex and challenging logistical task.

Nicola Peake, managing director, of Kier Environmental said: “A vast majority of households are now getting the new, extended recycling service on schedule. There are a small number of households who are still experiencing some delays and Kier is working hard to resolve this. The new waste and recycling service will save around £30m over ten years and the costs to the councils are fixed, so it is not accurate to say costs are ‘spiralling’. All staff who transferred across to Kier in Wealden had to learn new routes in a very large, and rural area because they now work across the entire district. This rota change was unavoidable given that each household now gets three different collections.”