Bin collections dominate complaints to Telford & Wrekin Council

Bin collection was the most complained-about neighbourhood service in Telford & Wrekin last year, according to a report.

The council received 477 “stage one” complaints about its corporate services in 2019-20, the lowest number for six years, a report for the Audit Committee says.

“Neighbourhood and Enforcement” received 142 complaints, 85 pieces of positive feedback and five formal compliments that year, it adds, the highest figures in all three categories.

“Domestic refuse collections” attracted 30 complaints, the highest number within the department, covering problems like “whole-street and individual missed collections”, collection changes and missing food waste caddies and bags.

The seven-member committee will discuss the report on Thursday, January 28.

The 2019-20 Customer Feedback Report says Neighbourhood and Enforcement Services consists of “customer-focused front-line services”, also including highway and footpath maintenance, parking and tree and woodland management, involving “millions of interactions with customers”.

It says: “Our waste services emptied approximately 8.3 million refuse bins across the borough in 2019-20.

“Furthermore, 99.4 per cent of bin collections were completed on time across all waste services.

“Domestic refuse collections received 30 complaints, 25 of which were upheld.

“This was due to a variety of issues including whole-street and individual missed collections, collection changes in September 2019 and the introduction of food waste collections.”

Timetables

Veolia, Telford & Wrekin Council’s recycling and waste contractor, distributed food waste caddies to households in summer 2019 ahead of introducing a dedicated collection to turn the refuse into energy and farming fertiliser through anaerobic digestion.

Across Neighbourhood and Enforcement Services as a whole, 75 out of the 142 complaints received in 2019-20 were upheld. Thirteen of those were logged as “poor quality of service”.

“These complaints were against waste services, particularly domestic refuse collections, involving missed collections, changes to timetables and food waste collections, including missed collections, no bags and a caddy not received,” the report says.

However, the number of complaints “significantly reduced” in the last quarter of the year, “indicating that there has been an improvement”, it adds.

The next highest category for upheld Neighbourhood and Enforcement Services complaints was “lack of action”, with 11, while drivers conduct and parking accounted for six more.

Across the council, 275 positive responses, 15 formal compliments and 477 complaints were received between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

“From these 477 complaints, 49 were escalated to stage two of our procedure and 34 were the subject of Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman enquiries,” the report authors say.

Telford and Wrekin Council has implemented any recommendations made following these, the report authors say, and there was only one finding of fault in 2019-20.

“The LGSCO found the council was at fault for not making further enquiries before placing a vehicle in storage when it had been purposefully moved,” the report says.

“Following this finding, notice templates have been updated to provide clarity. Procedures have also been reviewed.”

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