By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Parked cars blocking bin lorries and more people at home due to the pandemic have been listed as the source for a surge in complaints about Gedling Borough Council’s waste collection service.
Council documents show the majority of complaints upheld against the Labour-run authority in 2020/21 were related to waste and missed bin collections.
The figures, reviewed by the authority’s cabinet on Thursday (October 7), show the council received a total of 510 complaints in the year to March 2021.
Around 64 per cent, or 328 complaints, related to issues with the waste service.
The total is far higher than the council service with the second-highest number of complaints, parks and street care, with 57.
The figures also show that of the 164 complaints either upheld or partially upheld by the council’s investigation department, 108 related to waste and bin collections.
It comes as council figures also show roughly a 34 per cent rise in the number of year-on-year complaints about the council’s services, rising by 131 from 379 in 2019/20.
The council also recorded a small rise in the number of compliments it received during the same period – up by 37 to 397 in March 2021.
Sixty-two of the compliments related to waste.
Commenting in the meeting, councillors and officials spoke of the “difficult year” in managing waste collections, saying the issue is also proving challenging in the current financial year.
Mike Hill, the council’s chief executive, said: “It’s predominantly caused by missed bins due to blocked streets. This is no excuse, but Covid has created a lot more people either working from home or on furlough.
“The number of cars on the streets has caused significant difficulties for our crews.
“We have tried alternatives, we have a narrow vehicle, have sent letters to residents about considerate parking. We have done our best and we’re doing our best.
“But unfortunately there were a number of complaints relating to waste, and we can only do better this year and keep striving to improve on that.”
Councillor Peter Barnes, portfolio holder for the environment, added: “I think it’s very difficult under the present circumstances to ensure our lorries get down streets.
“We’ve got streets in the borough where, if you get two or three cars parked outside, you can’t get any traffic down.
“I don’t know what the answer is, to be honest. If we carry on like this, with people working from home, we might have to get more narrow lorries.
“But that’s all a cost and it seems to be a no-win situation.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported in the summer how hundreds of Gedling homes were left with unemptied bins due to badly-parked cars.
Residents reported maggots and flies swarming as rubbish mounted, leading to the council asking for more considerate parking.
Council figures showed collections were missed on more than 100 occasions between June 7 and August 2.
This affected 82 Arnold streets, with a further 72 in Carlton, 54 in Gedling village and 26 in Netherfield.
The council said the issue was putting a financial strain on its services, with lorries having to return to blocked streets later on to complete collections.