Tag Archives: Waste

Tonnes of recycling burned every day, says Brighton binman

From The Argus

Ken Quantick, 71, drives recycling lorries for Brighton and Hove City Council in the Lewes Road area.

His three-man crew covers a round that stretches from Bear Road to Asda in Hollingbury.

Mr Quantick claims Veolia, the company responsible for disposing of Brighton’s rubbish, has told his crew to tip all their recycling into the household waste facility.

“This means our eight tonnes of recycling a day is going straight into the incinerator at Newhaven,” he said.

He says this is because the company cannot cope with the amount of recycling being taken into the Hollingdean depot.

But Veolia claims it only rejects recycling which has been contaminated.

Mr Quantick said his crew had “a very low contamination rate” and had not had any problems over the past two years.

“This is a scandal,” he said.

“The public need to know what is going on.

“Our management at Cityclean seem powerless to do anything.”

Mr Quantick said Veolia had told him and his crew their recycling was contaminated with black bin bags and old recycling boxes, which meant whole loads were being burned.

Pictures from the depot appear to show recycling which contains black bags and recycling boxes.

But Mr Quantick, a council binman for 14 years, said it was routine for his crew to fill black bags with recycling on some streets where steep banks made it difficult to get wheelie bins to the lorries.

He said Veolia only started complaining about this on Thursday.

“We have been using this system all year,” he said.

He also said some people threw their old black recycling boxes into the big communal recycling bins – which dustmen have no way of checking until they empty the lorries.

He said the real reason was that Veolia could not cope with the amount of recycling.

“They are overwhelmed,” he said.

“It’s a mountain. They can’t clear it quickly enough. They are using this as an excuse. It’s absolutely disgusting.

“I don’t know what the public is going to think when they find out their recycling is being burned.”

Veolia said: “We are a recycling company and we recycle viable material.

“All recycled material that is collected is assessed for levels of contamination when presented at our materials recovery facility in Hollingdean.

“Loads might be rejected if it is deemed to contain too high levels of contamination – this is to protect the quality of our end recycled product and ensure the best environmental performance.

“There is no reason, and it would not make any sense, for us to reject recyclables.”

The council said: “We know there is an issue concerning contamination at the Veolia site.

“We will be speaking to Veolia and the drivers about the situation during our investigation.”

Two years to fix Brighton’s broken bins service, says new boss

From The Argus

Give it six more months and Brighton’s bin collection problem will start clearing up.

Overflowing rubbish bins in Hove.

That is the promise made by new Cityclean chief Rachel Chasseaud to long-suffering residents.

She says the main issues within Cityclean are poorly planned routes, uncompetitive salaries and a breakdown in communications, which has seen staff morale plummet.

High sickness day rates have also played a part in people’s bins not being collected regularly since late last year.

There is a long road ahead and Ms Chasseaud insists it will not be a straightforward task – and it will be about two years until the inadequate £10.3 million service is functioning the way it should be.

Ms Chasseaud’s plan is to restructure the routes for refuse collections so places that are being missed more frequently are targeted, though this is expected to take half a year.

In an interview with The Argus, she said: “It’s amazingly complex as to why there’s been problems. It’s something that’s happened over a period of time, not overnight.In six months people will see a big change.

“The round restructuring will take six months. There are some fantastic people at all levels within Cityclean. They want to be providing a really good service and they do really care that it isn’t working.”

Cityclean has about 90,000 refuse collections, 45,000 recycling rounds and 600 communal bins to clear, in total, per week.

As part of a “modernisation programme”, the service is due to undergo an overhaul, led by Ms Chasseaud, which will see a mapping system put in place to track collections.

This will make it easier to tackle areas where bins are not collected as regularly, Ms Chasseaud said.

Communication with staff has also been a big issue, with many frontline workers feeling their relationship with managers has been non-existent in recent times.

Ms Chasseaud, who started her £80,000-a-year job as assistant director on September 3, has been getting to know staff and rebuilding burnt bridges with them and the GMB union.

She described the service’s relationship with the union, which in August threatened to take strike action, as “complex” but said a good bond between them is crucial.

Ms Chasseaud said: “What I hope I’m already changing is relationships within the service. I’m spending a lot of time talking and listening to staff. That’s something I believe is very important.

“One thing I’ve noticed is staff morale has been very low. I think it’s because communications have broken down. People are feeling stretched. There have been cuts in the service, meaning a reduction in management to have conversations with staff.”

She is also working on improving communications with residents as soon as possible.

Speaking about GMB, she added: “A good relationship with the union is really important. I don’t think it’s the union that’s caused the problems. It’s not all management’s fault either – it’s historic. Sometimes certain actions start happening – strikes are one of them.I haven’t heard the union raise anything that I don’t agree with. The union knows we need to do round restructures too and more around health and safety.”

Another reason given for the poor service has been staff shortages.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report released last week revealed the £20,138 salary for drivers – significantly lower than £25,500 offered in East Sussex – is to be reviewed in a bid to retain workers.

The council is currently looking to recruit two additional drivers and four binmen.

Ms Chasseaud said: “One problem is recruiting drivers. There’s been a real change in the market and there’s a bigger demand and it’s driving up wages. At Gatwick, drivers can make more money. In other local authorities around Brighton and Hove wages are higher than in the city.”

High staff sickness has also been a contributing factor to the bins debacle which has seen some residents wait more than three weeks to have their rubbish collected.

A Freedom of Information request by The Argus revealed a total of 7,228 sick days were taken by Cityclean’s 275 members of staff, which includes office workers and managers as well as binmen, from January 2017 to August this year.

The council said the sickness rate is higher among Cityclean workers, and Ms Chasseaud is aiming to improve some health and safety aspects of the service, such as ensuring workers are wearing sufficient personal protection equipment.

She said the workforce is of a slightly older generation, too, increasing the risk of injuries on the job.

The council report, which is being presented to the environment, transport and sustainability committee today, highlighted staff sickness and stated workers will be offered free health checks.

Ms Chasseaud said: “When you’ve got a large number of people doing manual labour, you always expect some increased sickness. Another factor is staff morale. That has an impact. There’s been a good take-up on the health checks. I’m going to do a lot of work around wellbeing. We expect to see an improvement in sickness levels. There are no major health and safety issues.”

She has confidence in her own ability and has even received the backing of opposition councillors, with Conservative Dawn Barnett believing Ms Chasseaud is the right person for the job.

Her contract lasts a year, but she is hoping to impress and take it on permanently.

Ms Chasseaud said: “I would like to be part of a longer term strategy to really turn things around.”

Cityclean launches community clear-ups

From Brighton & Hove News

Picture-of-litter-by-Beverley-Goodwin-on-Flickr-300x238Do you care about your neighbourhood? Are you itching to help get your streets, parks and squares looking their best? Then Brighton & Hove City Council is launching a community clear-up programme that will visit every ward over the next 12 months.

Over the next year, the council’s refuse, recycling and street cleaning service Cityclean will be putting its expertise and muscle behind a series of major one-day community clear-ups. And the council would like to encourage residents and businesses in the area to join in.

For the full story click here.

Fly-tipping police could patrol Brighton and Hove streets

From Brighton & Hove Independent

A team of fly-tipping police could patrol the streets of Brighton and Hove, taking ”firm action” against those who ”wilfully and deliberately fly-tip”.

Warren Morgan, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, told the Brighton & Hove Independent that the team will issue fines to anyone caught dumping their rubbish around the city.

fly tipping (1)He issued a warning to fly-tippers: ”If you dump it we will come after you and fine you. That’s a promise.”

Fly-tippers dumping furniture or building waste next to a communal bin in the city and avoiding the cost of disposing of it themselves, will not be tolerated, Cllr Morgan said.

The move will come at no additional cost to the council: it says it has the capacity within the existing Cityclean team to kick start the project, and the fines issued will bring in additional income.

The council said in 2014/15 it issued 439 written warnings, 10 verbal warnings and gave site advice to 27 businesses in relation to waste issues, with 80 fixed penalty notices issued.

Fly-tipping includes anything from putting a TV in a communal bin to dumping a van’s contents on the street.

The details of the new scheme – such as the size of the new team – will be outlined in the environment committee meeting in October, with hopes that the service will start early next year.

To see Warren Morgan’s column, visit: brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/warren-morgan-final-warning-to-fly-tippers/

Bin strike goes ahead as planned

From The Argus

Members of the GMB on strike last year.

Members of the GMB on strike last year.

Cityclean staff working for Brighton and Hove City Council walked out from 12.01am until 11am on Wednesday 11th February over pay grades.

Union leaders have said more strike action may be on the way. Mark Turner, the GMB branch secretary, said members were “left again with no alternative other than to take further direct action”.

Union members want Cityclean’s 38 HGV lorry drivers put on a higher pay grade after six street cleaning staff were awarded the same money.

They claim the lorry drivers should get more as they have greater responsibilities.

The dispute became political after the city’s Conservatives condemned strike action.

In a tweet, Labour members in the Withdean ward said they supported Brighton and Hove’s bin lorry drivers.

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said the local Labour group should explain its position.

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group, said: “We don’t support the strike, we support an early resolution to the dispute and we want better ways of resolving problems that cause regular disruptions to the services residents pay for.”

Industrial action was called off last November after the local authority and unions agreed to get together and discuss the possibility of changes to the HGV drivers’ pay.

New job descriptions were drawn up and a council job evaluation panel considered the move, but they decided the workers’ responsibilities did not merit an increase in pay.

‘Schoolboy error’ blamed for refuse workers’ industrial action

From The Argus

Union bosses claim a “schoolboy error” has led to binmen taking up renewed industrial action.

Refuse lorry drivers have revived ‘work to rule’ after talks broke down between members of the GMB and Brighton and Hove City Council.

The latest campaign of industrial action is part of the same dispute over job descriptions, which resulted in a work to rule from September to November last year.

Mark Turner, GMB organiser, said the council had made a “schoolboy error” by setting up a “corporately led” panel to look at the proposals without union input, with members complaining it was not impartial.

The union boss argued a new evaluation of job descriptions to reflect drivers’ responsibility and efforts had taken “a step backwards”. Mr Turner said that despite increased financial and legal responsibilities, the job did not move up a single point on the council’s grading scale.

He said: “We could not possibly comment on future strike action; we could not rule it in and we could not rule it out.

“We hope it does not happen but we hope the employer sees some sense.”

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour group, said: “We are very disappointed that this dispute hasn’t been resolved and that residents will again see their bins go unemptied.

“We want to see Cityclean compete and expand into commercial waste collection, and that can’t happen while industrial relations are so bad.””

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “The trade union bosses need to accept the verdict of the independent job evaluation panel so that the workforce can get on with the job that residents rightly expect them to do.

“Residents are sick to the back teeth of these antics, which don’t seem to happen anywhere else in the country.”

Richard Bradley, head of Cityclean and Parks, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the GMB has notified us of the driver charge hands’ intention to ‘work to rule’.

“It is a decision that will lead to further disruption to residents at a time when we would want to be working together to put the service in the best place possible to face future challenges. The union has a right of appeal against the job evaluation, which they have not yet pursued.”

Council waste panel recruitment

Brighton & Hove City Council is looking for volunteers to take part in residents’ focus groups about waste, recycling, street cleaning and parks’ services.

You’ll receive a high street shopping voucher that can be used across a wide number of stores, in return for sharing your experiences and views on the way your council deals with these facilities.

You should be able to commit to taking part in three group meetings over a six-month period (for a maximum two hours each time).

It is important to hear your feedback and to help shape future services particularly in light of the forthcoming budget reductions.

The council would like to hear from a cross-section of people, so whether you are a homeowner, sharing a flat or renting a property, if you are interested in participating, please send us your details using the online waste panel recruitment form on our consultation portal.

We’re looking for a maximum of 15 people from across the city and will get back to you to confirm as soon as possible.