Waste – We Are Sorry

Today at County Hall, Cornwall Councillors were given a briefing on the current situation on the new waste contract. Present were 43 Councillors, a whole host of senior Cornwall Council officers, two Cabinet Portfolio Holders, the General Manager of Cory and their Head of Communications.

It started off by Julian Germans, one of the Portfolio Holders present saying sorry. This was refreshing to hear, as it is normally sorry, but. Senior Cornwall Council officers then explained the current situation, and the sheer scale of calls and inquires in the first few days of the new contract starting.

It should not be underestimated, but there are 470,000 waste collections per week. A huge undertaking in anyone’s book. In the first few weeks the number of succesful collections that have taken place in percentage terms are 98.5%. Meaning 1.5% were missed, or in numbers it is 7,000.

Even though you could argue 1.5% is a small number (of those reported) the General Manager of Cory said “one missed collection is not good enough” Fair play to him for saying that, and his apology to Councillors was good to hear too.

The General Manager of Cory then went on to explain some of the problems his company had faced since taking over the contract. I believe he was not trying to make excuses, but trying to explain his company’s side of the issues. One of these was Cory took on the workforce from eight different operations, and had been in consultation with the three Unions who represent the workforce. It was also interesting to hear that 50% of the workforce have received a pay rise since working with Cory.

The Cornwall Council officer in charge of the Call Centres explained the scale of phone calls his service received in the first few days was off the scale. There was long waiting times, and when people got frustrated with waiting on the dedicated waste line number, they used the various other Cornwall Council dedicated service numbers. This led to these others services being effected. In cases of a priority council service,  a special number was given out to overcome the jammed phone lines.

It was then the turn for Cornwall Councillors to ask questions. These were varied and covered just about everything. There was a lot of unhappy Councillors who could not understand why certain areas had gone so badly wrong. I have to say answers were given, that were to the point, honest, and not trying to make excuses.

I raised the questions on why Porthleven receives split collections on different weeks for recycling which leads to problems. I asked if possible for this to be changed.  I also asked about those who have subscribed to the garden waste collection and  have paid, but not received their container. I am told you can place your garden waste in a sack and it will be collected on the designated day. I was told no one will be out-of-pocket.

For me, I was pleased this meeting had taken place, as it gave me a clearer understanding of the problems, not just in my Division, but Cornwall as a whole. It would have been easy for those who are responsible for waste to make excuses, but they did not.

Let’s hope the promises given today that the waste collection will be running smoothly in a few weeks.

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