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Cllr Dr.Paul Barrow - Report for Parishes - August 2021

on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 3:22pm

Garden waste collection

Many of us have had problems with garden waste collection (Brown bins) in the last few weeks and it is likely to continue, so a brief summary might help.

Biffa is operating with approximately 20% fewer staff than is needed. Driver shortages is a national issue also affecting supermarkets. The increased demand for drivers means that many are tempted by more lucrative and attractive jobs than collecting rubbish. Brexit also reduced the driver pool. The issue came to a head more than a month ago when seven rounds were unable to go out which led to significant disruption. Biffa have been doing their best to try and manage the situation by a recruitment drive, staff incentives, earlier collections, weekend working and diverting supervisors. If the Vale didn’t divert the garden waste resources to collect food waste, residual waste and recycling then Biffa would not be able to collect these, but they’d also struggle to catch up, which would have knock on effects.

The main queries the Vale have had are around not delivering on commitments; rebates/refunds/compensation; cancellations; lack of notice/bins already full; no direct communication with customers/Covid & Brexit not applicable. New customers have also been affected– some have had a bin but no collections.

Customers are being contacted. To prevent this situation escalating the Vale suggest pausing new subscriptions until further notice.

Billing takes place every week, so customers will continue to get an invoice/DD collected until further notice.  This will undoubtedly generate some further complaints. Pausing billing/collecting DDs for all customers, is relatively straightforward with cash-flow being the main (negligible) impact but there would be knock- on effects that would need working through.  There is currently no contractual need to take this action as the Vale is still aiming to meet their 20 contractual obligations, but this is being kept under review with the option of giving additional collections or a free period being most likely.

It is worth remembering that the Stanford-in-the-Vale recycling takes green waste at no charge.

However, we are pressing the Vale to reconsider the issue of rebates and to explore restarting collection sooner than they had planned.

The most common questions and comments are similar to those received by the contact centre:

  • Comment: Requests/demands for refunds.
  • Response: The Vale is contacting customers individually.
  • Question: Why weren’t customers given any notice.
  • Response: It wasn’t always possible to give notice since on the problem Monday morning the business continuity plan was activated because there were insufficient drivers available to provide the waste service as a whole. This meant, suspending the garden waste service to prioritise everyone’s food waste, recycling and rubbish collections.

We are asked to keep an eye on www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/gardenwaste (click) for updates.

Air quality

A county-wide consultation on air quality is under way – please see (www.consultation.oxford.gov.uk/policy-and-communications/new-air-quality-website/) (click). The deadline to submit your comments is 5 September.

Oxfordshire Plan

The County Council is asking us to give them our thoughts on the Oxfordshire Plan 2050, particularly in relation to: how we work/transport, proposed levels of growth and how this might affect the rural landscape, housing/affordable homes, renewable energy/the move to zero carbon, communication and the source of our food. The consultation is now open for 10 weeks until Friday 8th October. See www.oxfordshireopenthought.org/oxfordshire-plan (click).

Oxfordshire Infrastructure Survey

You can also have your say on major future infrastructure plans for Oxfordshire as a consultation is open until 31st August – running in parallel with the above survey.

The Oxfordshire Infrastructure Strategy (OxIS) provides a framework for Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire’s five planning authorities and key partners to establish strategic infrastructure investment priorities as well as potential opportunities for funding and delivery.

The stage 1 report looking at infrastructure priorities to 2040 is now being consulted upon, with Stage 2 of OxIS planned to be carried out later this year to align with the next stage of the Oxfordshire Plan 2050.

In order to rank the different projects, the OxIS scores each against five themes - environment, health, place-shaping, productivity and connectivity - resulting in a seven-point scale to determine its relative ability to fulfil Oxfordshire’s future needs to 2040.

The six-week consultation is asking the public to give their views on which of the five themes they feel are most important, whether any strategic infrastructure schemes have been missed and thoughts on the methodology used in the strategy.

You can take part in the consultation by visiting https://www.oxfordshireopenthought.org/oxfordshire-infrastructure-strategy-oxis (click).

Cllr Dr Paul Barrow
[email protected]
District Councillor for Ridgeway Ward