Updates will be provided on the following:
- Waste Services Contract
- Provision of Household Waste Recycling Centre in Tonbridge and Malling
- Fly Tipping Enforcement
- Car Parking Charges – Public Consultation
Updates were provided on the following issues:
(a) Waste Services Contract
The Waste Contract Officer advised that the Borough Council recognised that the poor performance related to the new service arrangements were unacceptable and acknowledged that the last few months had been extremely difficult and frustrating.
In response to the contractor’s poor performance, particularly over the Christmas period, the Borough Council escalated contract issues with Urbaser and the Chief Executive wrote personally to the Managing Director. As a result of formal meetings at the highest level the contractor had provided a detailed action plan to address and resolve the performance issues.
A number of measures had been implemented to ensure that all residents received an acceptable level of service. These included:
- Doubling capacity with twenty additional refuse vehicles and fifty more collection staff;
- Changing to new vehicles which focused on collecting either mixed recycling or food waste, not both;
- Re-planning and reducing the size of some collection rounds to ensure they were completed;
- Placing additional inspectors at depots and on collection rounds to monitor performance;
- Reducing the number of agency staff in favour of more permanent staff;
- Improving data handling to identify and respond to repeatedly missed ‘hot spots; and
- Increasing temporary staffing at the Borough Council to deal with complaints and reports of missed bins.
Progress on the action plan was monitored weekly and the Waste Contract Officer was pleased to report that since the implementation of the new measures contract performance had improved significantly. There had been a reduction in the volume of complaints received and the number of calls continued to fall. However, it was essential that the improved level of performance was maintained.
Despite the issues with the contract there had been very positive engagement from residents regarding recycling. It was reported that early indications for October/November 2019 showed an improved recycling collection rate of 50% which was extremely encouraging.
In addition, there had been significant interest in the garden waste collection scheme, with 47% of residents in the Borough subscribing.
Once the service performance was consistent the Borough Council would introduce the collection of communal bins. It was anticipated that the roll-out of this service would not commence until April 2020. Members were also advised that the current bring bank sites would remain in place until after the communal bins service was in operation to allow continuity of service for those residents. There would also now be more focus on the street cleaning programme.
Finally, it was noted that scheduled major road works on the A21 for a 10 day period in February 2020 may have implications for waste collections due to congestion and potential gridlock.
The Chairman, in his role as Leader of the Council, reiterated disappointment and frustration at the poor performance of the contractor during January. However, he was pleased to see an improving position and thanked parish/town councils and their communities for their patience, particularly the positive approach to recycling.
The parish councils welcomed the progress being made on improving the contract performance but expressed concern that some outstanding issues remained, such as the number of missed bins; emptying overflowing dog bins; the street cleaning programme; the quality of the service regarding placement of bins once emptied and collection of textiles and batteries.
(b) Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) in Tonbridge and Malling
Tenders for the HWRC were currently being evaluated by Kent County Council. This process would be followed by quality and financial submission assessments and negotiation meetings. The award of the contract was due on 25 February, with a mandatory standstill period which meant that the announcement of the successful contractor would be made from 9 March – assuming there was no challenge to this decision.
Officers from Kent County Council offered to attend the next meeting of the Parish Partnership Panel to provide a more detailed update.
(c) Fly Tipping Enforcement
It was reported that Kent County Council (KCC) had committed £250,000 to reduce the level of fly tipping in Kent. The funding would assist district and borough councils to undertake further enforcement, improve communications between all partners involved and aimed to better inform both householders and businesses of their Duty of Care and responsibilities relating to waste disposal.
Members were reminded that the collection and enforcement of fly tipping was the responsibility of district and borough councils and that the County Council provided support via the Kent Resource Partnership.
As part of this initiative a number of authorities were undertaking ‘days of actions’ in partnership with Kent Police. The Borough Council was planning a similar campaign focused on educating households to check the credentials of those collecting waste. Details would be shared with parish/town councils when these were finalised.
Parish Councils welcomed more active enforcement but queried whether fly tippers would take notice of social media messages, posters and other educational tools. In response to a query raised regarding the use of cameras to catch perpetrators in the act, it was indicated that whilst these could be a valuable tool in gathering evidence it could also be time consuming in collecting and reviewing footage.
The County Member for Malling West (Councillor Harry Rayner) referred to the joint arrangements between Districts and the County Council in policing ‘hot spots’ and commented that consistent problem sites within Tonbridge and Malling were not appearing on the lists reviewed under these arrangements.
The Director of Street Scene, Leisure and Technical Services advised that the Borough Council was aware of the funding available and would clarify what enforcement arrangements and proposals were being considered. A further update would be provided at the next meeting of the Parish Partnership Panel.
The Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Environment Services (Councillor Robin Betts) advised that he was attending the Kent Resource Partnership in the near future and would take this opportunity to discuss fly tipping initiatives.
(d) Car Parking Charges – Public Consultation
The public consultation on proposals for car parking management in the Borough ended on 9 February and all were encouraged to submit comments before the deadline.
Residents were invited to comment on proposals related to the Phase 11 Parking Plan, variation to parking charges and the introduction of charges in Aylesford, Larkfield and Snodland.
Members of the Street Scene and Environment Services Advisory Board would review the proposals and initial consultation responses on 9 June with a further report to Cabinet on 30 June. In respect of the proposals related to Aylesford, Larkfield and Snodland this would be followed by a further consultation period of 21 days in accordance with the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996. Members would review and consider the responses and proposals in September/October 2020.