Lack of leadership blamed for missed bin collections in North Norfolk

Kier at work collecting rubbish in north Norfolk

Kier at work collecting rubbish in north Norfolk - Credit: Archant

The number of missed assisted bin collections in north Norfolk remains 'unacceptably high' - and previous attempts to improve the service have proved 'ineffective'.

Scott Martin, environmental services manager at North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), made the scathing remarks in a report to the local authority's Overview and Scrutiny Committee following concerns over the performance of Kier, which handles its waste services contract.

He revealed the number of missed bin collections in the first half of 2015 was almost three times higher than the target set - 93 per 100,000 collections compared to a target of 25.

However, with the company responsible being fined £5000 for more than 100 defaults in August and September alone, the council officer pointed out that figure had since almost halved, to 51 per 100,000.

Mr Martin said: 'Kier's performance across the contract as a whole has been generally satisfactory during what has been a busy summer season.

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'Whilst in terms of bin collections performance has been poor at times, especially in August and September, this should be balanced against the very high standards which are maintained elsewhere, such as within the cleansing service for which the council does receive praise.

'Positive steps continue to be taken by officers to drive improvements in performance across services. The contract clause, where a default is issued per 100 bins not collected on the scheduled day, has been used to affect change in how Kier manage their staff and fleet.'

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Kier has been providing waste and recycling collections, street cleansing, grounds maintenance and the cleansing of public conveniences and buildings to NNDC since April 2011.

Between April and November last year, the firm received a total of 158 contract defaults - almost double the number issued in the same period in 2014.

Kier blamed unreliability of agency staff to cover sickness and holiday absence, as well as vehicle breakdowns, for the problems.

But it revealed it has recruited more permanent staff and is in the process of training crews on new in cab technology to remind them which properties have been granted an assisted collection.

The local authority, however, believes a lack of leadership is the root cause of the number of missed bin collections and the company's failure to meet its targets.

Mr Martin said: 'The lack of consistent senior management at Kier is felt to be the root cause of many of the issues, which filters down to local performance. The management of the contract at local level has again changed during the latter part of 2015, with the role of Operations Manager at Kier vacant at the time of writing.'

Nevertheless, he added: 'Kier have responded well and alternative systems and procedures are now in place in terms of covering absent staff or vehicles with defects and seem to be working well, with little in the way of disruption to scheduled collections in the latter part of 2015.

'The cleanliness of north Norfolk throughout the tourist season was generally found to be very good and was a significant focus for proactive monitoring by the environmental services team to ensure priorities were met and any problems identified were dealt with swiftly.'

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