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Waste and street cleaning targets plunge to new low levels in East Cambridgeshire

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Staff shortages, sickness and re-configuring rounds has been a nightmare for waste collection and street cleaning at East Cambridgeshire District Council.

Performance targets have been the lowest since the service was transferred to East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS) in 2018.

Figures to be given to the operational services committee show, for instance, that a 90 per cent target for ‘overall performance’ was just 21 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year.

And only 38 per cent of ‘bin deliveries within 10 working days’ were achieved against a target of 92 per cent.

James Khan, head of the council owned standalone company, says April, May and June has been as tough as it gets.

Performance figures at East Cambs Street Scene to be shown to councillors

“The first quarter of this financial year has proven to be the most challenging for ECSS, since its creation in 2018,” says Mr Khan.

“The start of this quarter saw the implementation of a district wide reconfiguration of the waste collections rounds.

“The largest project ECSS is likely to take on.

“The project, and its demand, has had all employees working tirelessly throughout the quarter, supporting its implementation, and addressing concerns raised by crew members, internal departments, and residents.

“During its first few months of implementation, ECSS faced unprecedented levels of staff shortages, causing abnormal levels of strain on service deployment and on all employees.”

Mr Khan said: “The national shortage of HGV drivers, twinned with normal levels of employee turnover and sickness absence ECSS experiences throughout the year, both waste collection and street cleansing services have suffered.

“Due to the shortage of HGV drivers, those who are normally deployed across street cleansing services, have had to be redeployed into the waste services to ensure domestic waste can be collected each week.

“This has obviously had a negative impact on the performance of street cleansing.

“Continuing high levels of sickness absence plagued ECSS with cases of long- and short-term sickness amongst HGV drivers and loaders increasing.”

Mr Khan added: “Due to the working environment, many loaders experience short term levels of sickness due to fatigue or strain on pre-existing injuries and health conditions.

“Additionally, this quarter saw the continuation of the long-term recovery of two HGV drivers, who had suffered major health concerns.

“These cases of absences, along with normal levels of annual leave added substantial strain to all services.

“To assist with the completion of collections during the initial stages of implementation, ECSS enlisted the assistance of a local organisation, CountryStyle Agenda

“This assistance helped complete collections rounds when staffing pressures were at their extreme.

“Forging this relationship has open the opportunity for ECSS to work in partnership with other external contractors, adding resilience to the delivery of services.”

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