Swindon Borough Council Deputy Conservative Group leader Cllr Dale Heenan writes for Swindon Link
August is typically a quiet time because the summer holidays have started, so we use this time to focus on our ward casework for residents.
The number one issue has been a surprising one. For thousands of families in North and West Swindon, missed waste and recycling collections have seen bags of plastic recycling blowing around our streets.
This is one of the few local services that residents can actually evidence in return for their Council Tax bills so it is crucial the service operates effectively - and the current problems are avoidable.
The Conservatives promised a constructive approach to being in opposition, and it is our responsibility to highlight poor performance. Firstly, the issue was denied, and then the excuses started. Covid, Brexit and even the Tories' fault! An emergency meeting of the council's Scrutiny Committee has been held to establish the cause and we did.
Towards the end of June, the waste service experienced a shortage of drivers because of sickness and annual leave. By the end of July, waste collections for 10,500 properties were being missed. Its summer, of course more of our staff want to take holiday but it must be balanced with operational needs. Not a great start for the new council.
Lessons need to be learnt quickly because the new weekly collection of food waste is imminent. This has been planned for several years, trials held and the long anticipated rollout is scheduled for October. All households need to have their fingers crossed that the new administration gets this right.
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