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Garden waste

Changes to the garden waste service

We are pleased to inform our customers that garden waste collections will resume from Monday 27 September.

Customers will receive a collection once every four weeks until December, which is when collections usually revert to that frequency under normal circumstances.

We are very sorry for the disruptions to the garden waste service this year. We have done our best to keep the service operating as normal. Despite staff shortages, we have continued to provide most recycling and waste services. Unfortunately, this is no longer sustainable in the usual format.

From Monday 27 September 2021, collections will be once every four weeks instead of once every two weeks. This approach will allow us to avoid a longer suspension while we deal with the driver shortages. You can check your next collection date here

HGV driver shortage

A combination of factors has caused the shortage of HGV drivers, including:

  • no newly qualified drivers entering the profession due to an 18-month hiatus of training due to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • major changes to retail and home shopping have significantly increased the non-HGV driver opportunities for van drivers, reducing the need to train into the HGV profession
  • retirement from the profession by an ageing population, quoted as having an average age of 57
  • Brexit has resulted in changes to workers’ rights to stay and work in the UK -large numbers of European migrant HGV drivers have left the UK over the last 15 months
  • a lack of test centres and instructor availability for new HGV drivers is severely impacting on recovering driver numbers

What we’re doing

We’ve recruited several members of staff who hold normal driving licences. These staff members have been put onto a fully sponsored North Somerset Environment Company (NSEC) HGV Class 2 driver training scheme delivered in partnership with SOMAX at Weston College. They will start to sit their theory tests at the end of September and move onto their practical driving phase with test dates yet to be confirmed toward the end of November.

As well as all the normal channels of recruitment, we’re also working with partner agencies to attract new drivers including ex-military personnel recruitment companies, help to return to work schemes and organisations assisting the rehabilitation of offenders.

Other waste services

We hope other services will run as normal. Suspending the garden waste service should allow us to continue collecting other waste and recycling.

How to manage your garden waste during the suspension

Our recycling centres will be open as normal if you’re unable to store your garden waste at home. 

We are also going to set up trial drop off sites across the area. This is so existing customers have the option to take their garden waste to drop-off points if they don’t live within easy reach of the recycling centres. These will be announced to customers living in those areas as soon as they are up and running.

Home composting is also a good way to deal with any extra garden waste generated.

 

Collection dates

We have updated your garden waste calendars to reflect the new collection dates. You can access these here

Other recycling and general waste collection dates will remain the same.

To limit our environmental impact, we no longer print our collection calendars. If you do require a large font or braille calendar, please contact us using the email below. 

gardenwaste@n-somerset.gov.uk

Fly-tipping

We all have a responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment and fly-tipping is illegal. Our Waste Enforcement Team will actively pursue all reports of fly-tipping and we encourage residents to come forward if they witness any acts of fly-tipping. Garden waste should not be placed in the black bin and crews may not collect if you do this.

How we’re keeping in touch with our residents

If you provided an email address when you signed up to the new garden waste service, you will have received an email regarding the changes. We organised an immediate press release (issued on Monday 20 September), updated the information on our website and are providing daily updates on our social media pages. If you are not receiving updates but would like to, please email gardenwaste@n-somerset.gov.uk with your address, and we can update your details.

Taking garden waste to a recycling centre using a trailer

We’ve lifted the time restrictions for all permitted trailers at all our recycling centres. You should check the opening times of your local recycling centre before you travel.

Trailers must be under 2.4m in length or will be refused entry. Permitted vehicles, including trailers are not allowed access on Sundays.

Excess garden waste

We won’t be able to collect excess garden waste that is outside of your bins or sacks. This is to ensure that the crew have enough room to collect from every property on their round. Please ensure your bins or sacks are not over filled and the lid can be closed so crews can safely empty them. This is to ensure that the crew have enough room to collect from every property on their round

Compensation

We are offering a discount on next year's collections to compensate you for the disruption. You don't need to contact us to qualify for this offer - it will be automatically available at renewal.

The situation with driver shortages remains a concern, as it does across many other industries. The level of discount will be announced later in the year so we can ensure it is reasonable based on the service disruption throughout the year.

Will the discount be the same for everyone? - some residents have had more collections missed than others

All subscribers have been impacted therefore the discount will be applied to all residents who subscribe to the garden waste service. The discount value is not entirely based on the number of collections missed. It will be set at a reasonable level to reflect the disruption to the service. It would have been too costly to administer applying different discount levels to individual householders.

Why are you offering a discount on next years collections and not extending the subscription period? (as most other authorities have done)

A discount will be applied as it is the most straightforward way of offering compensation to residents who have had service disruptions rather than amending subscription periods going forward.

The T&Cs for the service do allow for a level of service disruptions due to unforeseen circumstances. We recognise that the level of disruptions should result in compensation for subscribers but the value on compensation is not purely based on the number of collections missed. We currently do not operate on a rolling subscription therefore all garden waste subscriptions end on the 31 March. Therefore, it is easier and less costly to administer a one-off reduction in next year’s charge rather than changing the subscription end date for all subscribers.

Is there going to be an increase in garden waste sign up costs next year?

Sales, fees, and charges have not yet been agreed for next year. These will be considered by the Council as part of the budget setting process for 2022/23 financial year. If it is necessary to increase the service charge the discount offered will be applied to the price of next years’ service.

Can I have a refund as I won’t be subscribing next year?

The driver shortage is still a very serious issue for us, and we do not know how the situation will change in the future. For those who do not want to sign up for garden waste collections next year, we will provide more information about compensation before the end of your subscription period. We are waiting to see the full impact of the driver shortages before we publish more information on this.