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Army may be deployed to collect refuse
Councils may well end up calling in the army to clear rubbish and empty bins, thanks to staffing crises in waste departments. Derby City Council despite cancelling its brown bin collections in the city last week, says it is struggling to maintain its blue recycling bin collections.
Councillor Jonathan Smale, city council cabinet member for waste services and Street Pride, told Derbyshire Live: "Officers are working extremely hard to ensure we continue to collect general waste. We're talking to colleagues in the private sector, and are plugging into our Local Resilience Forum which has representation from the army - no options are off the table.
"Dealing with the city's waste is one of the services that residents rightly consider a top priority amongst the things that the council does. I can assure you that your bins are a top priority for us too and we are doing everything possible to maintain the best possible service we can in what are truly unprecedented times.
"A number of our workforce have had to self-isolate in line with Government guidance, which has meant we have had significantly fewer staff to collect bins and drive our vehicles.
"In addition to these staffing issues, the Government has issued strong guidance on social distancing, and we're left with a situation where we've had to reduce the number of people in each vehicle. On a normal day, we send around 32 crews to collect Derby's rubbish and recycling. Each vehicle has a driver and two or three collectors, and this is simply no longer possible resulting in a reduction to our services. The council has every intention of continuing services as much as we can."
In a comment aimed at residents he said:
"Now, more than ever, we need your help to try and reduce your waste. We may have to prioritise black bin collection, which could mean having to store your recycling. The best thing to do is to rinse out and squash down recycling - clean, dry recycling can be stored at home without any risk."
Some refuse collectors have allegedly been complaining that they have inadequate personal protective equipment. The council, however, has defended itself and hit back saying it provides equipment and has passed on advice about Government guidance and working during the coronavirus pandemic.
A city council spokesman said: "All of the crews have gloves and work clothes, they also have hand washing facilities, soap and hand towels. We have advised individuals what to do if they are in high risk categories and if they feel unwell. We have spoken to public health about information regarding social distancing and the crews have been spoken to and advised how to proceed based on Government guidance."
26th March 2020