An East Sussex council is considering exercising ‘step in rights’ on its waste collection contract with Kier due to concerns around poor performance.
At a meeting of Wealden District Council’s cabinet on Wednesday (July 11), councillor Roy Galley told members that council staff may be instructed to take over work to clear up waste and recycling drop-off points (known as bring sites).
Cllr Galley was responding to a question raised by Framfield and Waldron councillor Ann Newton, who described the state of a bring site in her ward as ‘appalling’.
Roy Galley, cabinet member for economic development and waste management, said: “The service we are receiving from Kier at the moment is appalling and there is no immediate prospect of that getting significantly better.
“You refer to your patch but I have to tell you the problems extend throughout Wealden and many councillors have been in touch with me about problems on their patch.
“We can’t allow this situation to continue so we have notified Kier we are going to exercise our ‘step in rights’, so we can take over part of the contract to clear some of the bring sites which will relieve some of the pressure and allow Kier to step in elsewhere.
“Kier have reacted to that by telling us they are clearing those sites and expect to give us an update in a couple of hours.
“We are putting a lot of pressure on Kier and we are working with them constantly to solve these problems. They ought to be managing the contract properly, they aren’t.”
Cllr Galley said the recent issues were due to staffing issues at Kier, resulting in four teams being unable to run collections this week.
He also told members the lead for the East Sussex Joint Waste Committee is expected to meet with the managing director of Kier Environmental next week, to discuss concerns with the company’s performance.
Following the meeting, a Wealden spokesman said council staff would only be stepping in to clear waste at a small number of the district’s bring sites (15 of out of 53).
The spokesman said the sites would be cleared by council staff later this week but it would not become an on-going arrangement.
Commenting on the situation a Kier spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the residents of Wealden for the recent disruptions to service. It does not fall in-line with our usual high levels of service and we are doing everything we can to rectify this.
“We are actively recruiting new staff to allow us to fully deploy during the busy summer period. We appreciate all the support from residents as our teams work in these very hot conditions and we would ask for their continued support during this time.
“We are committed to serving the residents of Wealden and we are confident these new measures will have a quick and positive impact to service.”