Crewe: council waste chiefs steer bin lorries to keep service going during driver shortage

By Gwyn Griffiths

22nd Oct 2021 | Local News

ANSA bosses have been in the driving seat to ensure bin collections are maintained in Cheshire East when the service has been threatened by driver shortages.

Cheshire East was one of the few councils which managed to keep all bin collections, including recyclables and garden waste, going throughout the year.

That was partly down to managers who got behind the wheel themselves to help out when the collections were threatened by the HGV driver shortage.

Cheshire East chief executive Lorraine O'Donnell said: "This summer period, and where we are now, has been one of the trickiest.

"If you can imagine there's three people in a cab, one is positive or has to self isolate, then that usually means the other colleagues too.

Ansa bosses have been in the driving seat to ensure bin collections are maintained in Cheshire East when the service has been threatened by driver shortages.

Cheshire East was one of the few councils which managed to keep all bin collections, including recyclables and garden waste, going throughout the year.

That was partly down to managers who got behind the wheel themselves to help out when the collections were threatened by the HGV driver shortage.

Cheshire East chief executive Lorraine O'Donnell said: "This summer period, and where we are now, has been one of the trickiest.

"If you can imagine there's three people in a cab, one is positive or has to self isolate, then that usually means the other colleagues too.

"And then the HGV drivers [shortage]. Our colleagues at Ansa were telling me that the latest position on this is that where we have drivers who were asked to self-isolate then, where they had the appropriate qualifications obviously, managers were then standing in for the drivers.

"That's really the commitment to saying the service must go on.

"We haven't cancelled or postponed any of our collections, but sometimes that's meant that there's been a driver who hasn't been as familiar with the route as the one he's taken over from, so there have been a few more missed bins.

"But when you look at how many councils across the country have had to cancel, postpone collections or drop from fortnightly to three weeks or so on, we haven't done any of that."

Audlem councillor Rachel Bailey recently told a meeting of the audit and governance committee how, when a bin lorry had broken down near her home, the operatives had asked her to contact residents through social media and other means to explain the delay.

"That shows their commitment and how proud they are of what they do," she later told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Last month Ansa, the council's wholly owned company which is responsible for collecting waste collection and managing Cheshire East's household recycling centres, won national recognition for the service it provides.

The waste management and recycling service was voted best service team at The Association for Public Service Excellence Awards.

Ansa makes more than 13 million collections a year.

Last year complaints from Cheshire East residents about the service were down by 41 per cent, from 1,014 in 2019/20 to 598 last year.

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