Councilors are looking to take action to solve long-standing litter and recycling collection problems as their email inboxes are crammed with complaints.
They said that despite a pay rise and talks to resolve management issues following a strike last year, parts of Brighton and Hove were still suffering from missed rubbish and recycling pick-ups.
Conservative Councilor Samer Bagaeen asked for a report on improving service on Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday night.
He said that as part of the deal with striking garbage truck drivers last year, the council offered a pay rise and scrapped the lowest pay brackets at a cost of £859,000 a year.
Cllr Bagaeen, who represents the community of Hove Park, said people in The Paddocks, a cul-de-sac just off The Droveway in his community, have spent the past six months making it easier for dumpsters to reach their rubbish.
He said: “Despite attempts by local residents to do everything they can to ensure the road is clear, to trim all the shrubbery to the side to ensure vehicles have access and to ensure their rubbish bins are at the curb, none of this has resulted in their garbage being picked up on the day it is due to be picked up.”
Cllr Bagaeen said he had 70 emails in his inbox on the subject alone that generated 800 grams of carbon.
He called for a report to set out the underlying problems affecting specific areas and propose a solution.
Labor Councilor Gary Wilkinson said his party had asked for a cross-party working group to study and review the “systemic flaws” affecting the delivery of essential council services.
He said staff had worked hard in difficult conditions and the problem was not with them but with systems and government cuts totaling more than £100m to the council’s finances.
Cllr Wilkinson said: “Our town’s residents have endured weeks of overflowing bins of recycling and rubbish bins that were not emptied.
“These are serious problems for which residents expect and deserve solutions. These are not new concerns.”
Labor Councilor Nancy Platts, the council’s former chair, said she repeatedly sent the same email about missed collections, including supported collections, and each time received a different response.
She said: “What that tells us is that the service is so fragile that if we lose a staff member it seems like it will throw the whole round out of whack.
“So all of Whitehawk just gets overlooked and then they have to wait a month for their recycling to be collected.
“It’s getting to the point where residents are saying to me, ‘Should we just give up and throw our recycling in the bin,’ which will lower recycling rates.”
Cllr Platts asked officials to tell councilors what it would take to fix the problems, whether it be more staff or a bigger budget.
As council members debated how to resolve the strikes last October, Cllr Platts spoke to pickets at Cityclean, the council’s refuse and recycling service.
She said they felt “treated like something on the sole of a manager’s shoe.”
Cllr Platts listed problems ranging from frequent breakdowns with used trucks, teams being sent in with the wrong vehicles, and new drivers not being given details on “maze-of-alley” rounds.
The committee voted five to four in favor of a detailed report, with Labor and Conservatives voting in favor and the Greens voting against.
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