‘Sorry for rubbish service’ says East Devon council

Staff shortages to blame

East Devon District Council has apologised to residents for the continuing disruption to its waste and recycling services. 

Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

Slow: recycling not quite in progress (courtesy: East Devon District Council)

Staff shortages at Suez, a private company which runs East Devon’s waste service, mean that bulky waste collection is suspended and some residents may have collections on a different day than usual.

The council says the staff shortage is being caused by a “perfect storm” of covid, a national shortage of skilled workers and a number of people being on holiday. They say the challenges may continue “for the foreseeable future.” 

Suez is currently trying to recruit for five positions it has vacant in its East Devon staff.

Councillor Geoff Jung, (Democratic Alliance Group, Woodbury and Lympstone) portfolio holder for coast, country and environment said: “Just as we thought we were returning to more normal times, we are experiencing tremendous pressure because of short term staff shortages like every other service provider in the country.

“On behalf of East Devon District Council, I would like to thank all our residents for their understanding, whilst we continue to provide a recycling and waste collection service during these very challenging times. 

“Please, please continue to recycle and please help our team sort and load by organising the recycling items within the containers” 

Councillor Tom Wright (Conservative, Budleigh and Raleigh), who oversaw the appointment of Suez when the Conservatives were in charge, echoed this message: “We’re doing all we can. All I can say is sorry to the residents who are inconvenienced, but I’m sure this is a short term situation and when things get back to normal I’m sure Suez will be able to give the first-rate service they did when I was a portfolio holder [for coast, country and environment].”

Staff shortage are affecting councils up and down the country as well as across Devon.  Earlier this month Exeter City Council suspended its garden waste collection for eight days because of a lack of HGV drivers. At the height of the crisis, the council resorted to enlisting some office staff to help with collections.