This week I will be talking rubbish. No change there, you might suggest.
I want to discuss the council’s waste collection service and how we are making it better.
At the moment I am not satisfied with aspects of it, but we are moving fast to change that.
Last week we launched a new garden waste collection round. Once it is up and running, we will be able to add another 5,000 or so residents to the service.
I signed an executive order to fast-track the plan and strip away some of the decision-making bureaucracy that would have slowed us down.
If something’s not right we are going to make changes quickly. Why wait?
And there is more we can do to improve the rest of the service too, and you will see these changes coming soon.
Along with planning, waste collection is the biggest, most high-profile role a district council fulfils.
It has to be done right because if it isn’t, everyone knows.
And right now it’s not running at its absolute best.
There are more than 50,000 households in East Hampshire, scattered across almost 200 square miles.
Whether it’s rubbish, recycling, glass or green waste, every week each household will have at least one visit from one of our dustcarts, sometimes two.
That all adds up to around 275,000 bin collections a month – a mammoth undertaking.
But like all waste services, post-pandemic ours has been blighted by the national shortage of trained lorry drivers making it difficult to keep up with collections.
Every day we have 16 crews out, each emptying up to 1,000 bins a day.
Because of the shortage, our pool of qualified drivers does not extend much beyond those 16. If we’re a driver short one day, and there’s no-one to pick up the slack, that’s 1,000 bins left un-emptied.
And under the circumstances the service has held up very well.
In terms of percentages, we miss a small number of bins, but if it’s your rubbish that gets left behind, that is still massively frustrating.
So, the service is strong, but it can be improved.
You cannot assume that your services are running right – you have to manage them every day. You have to analyse them and evolve them so they are always going in the right direction.
That’s why I am reviewing the way we deliver the waste collection service, along with other services, as we continue our separation from Havant Borough Council.
We will improve the way the waste collection service is delivered now to safeguard it for the future.
East Hampshire District Council is ultimately responsible for delivering this service. If it doesn’t go well it is on us and, as the leader of the council, I need to feel we have control of the reins.