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Festive bin collection plans in full flow

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By MArc McLean, local democracy reporter
Festive bin collection plans in full flow

WASTE services bosses are working on back-up plans for bin collections over the festive period to ensure there is not a repeat of the fiasco earlier this year.

Dumfries and Galloway Council chiefs will seek confirmation from bin collection workers this month on whether or not they wish to work overtime at Christmas and New Year.

If they choose not to, moves will be made to hire agency staff so that bins will still be emptied over the festive break. Special preparations are being made following the chaotic situation at Easter where no cover was provided and bins were not picked up.

The matter was discussed at the communities committee on Tuesday where Annandale South Councillor Ian Carruthers sought reassurances that there would be no disruption to bin collections over Christmas and New Year.

Harry Hay, the council’s head of neighbourhood services, said: “There’s been a lot of work recently to engage and improve communication with the waste collection team because clearly any service is wholly dependent on the teams that deliver it.

“I’ve outlined to them on a number of occasions that our absolute number one preference would be for our own collection workforce to collect the bins.

“Should they choose not to work the overtime, then we’ll have to come up with a contingency. It’s that contingency that we’re continuing to work on.”

He added: “In October, I intend to request that the workforce confirm definitively as to whether they wish to work the overtime or not.”

Councillor Carruthers asked if there’s enough capacity in the private sector to fill in.

Responding, Harry Hay said: “We already use agency staff and agencies across the region to bolster any capacity issues.

“That is the question that we’re currently working with our agency partners on: if the circumstances dictate that we require them, what is their capacity across the whole region?

“Because the private sector are dealing with exactly the same challenges that local authorities are facing in terms of availability of drivers, availability of operatives etc.”

“It’s certainly something we’re dealing with as an absolute priority.”

Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Jim Dempster said: “I would support our refuse collection staff, I think they do a tremendous job all year round, and they’re entitled to their holidays, should they wish to take them.

“If there are changes, can we make sure that the public are alerted in plenty of time, so they know exactly what we are, and are not, doing.”

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