GARDEN waste will now only be collected every month in Cardiff as the council continues to struggle to run the service.
Residents previously had garden waste collected once a fortnight, until recently long delays meant collections were often missed or on unscheduled days.
Cardiff council has blamed a national shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers for the problems with the waste collection service.
Due to the ongoing problems, opposition councillors last month held a vote of no confidence in the council’s cabinet, which the ruling Labour party group narrowly won.
During the rest of August, the council said it would collect any garden waste that remains on the streets. The next scheduled collection will not happen until after the bank holiday on August 30. It’s still unclear when collection days for garden waste will be in the autumn.
The council said monthly garden waste collections would “give us the best chance of maintaining” collections of general waste, food, hygiene and recycling. These take priority as they are a statutory service and a legal requirement, while garden waste is discretionary.
Residents who drive can take their garden waste to the two recycling centres in Cardiff. From Monday, August 23, the council will make accessing tips easier, by opening later and having fewer restrictions on how often people can visit recycling centres.
Councillor Michael Michael, cabinet member for clean streets, recycling and environment, said: “We recognise the inconvenience to residents and we want you to know we will do our best to return the service, albeit reduced, as soon as we can.
“If residents do have a car, and are able to bring their garden waste to the recycling centres, this will help us clear the backlog. For those who are unable to drive, please leave your green waste presented on the kerbside this week and we will collect it as quickly as possible.
“Unlike many other councils, Cardiff collects garden waste for free. It’s a discretionary service which, unfortunately, we have to set aside at moments like this when resources are unavailable.
“The UK-wide driver shortages—which trade organisations blame on Brexit—is creating major issues for us, but our crews have been doing their best and we thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Councils elsewhere in the country are also struggling recruiting HGV drivers. Industry bodies at the shortages are due to changes to immigration rules after Brexit, and the pandemic preventing some new drivers from passing the HGV licence tests.
But opposition councillors put the blame on the ruling cabinet and said Cardiff residents they represent are “exceptionally unhappy” with the service.
Conservative Cllr Jayne Cowan said: “I recently attended a briefing on waste, and asked a direct question to the cabinet member on whether we would see any changes to green waste collections. The answer was a categorical ‘no’. I was therefore exceptionally surprised to see the email with such a fundamental change.
“The problems with waste have gone on for a very long time, and I still remain of the view that the ruling group have not had a grasp of the severity of the issues over a long and sustained period of time. Residents remain exceptionally unhappy with the service from non-collections of bulky waste, to green waste to problems with yellow bags.
“Until the ruling group acknowledges that a key service area under their watch is failing our residents, we are unlikely to see any progress. I reiterate the view that the decisions taken are political ones, and I would like to continue to thank the staff who are out working hard to collect the rubbish on a daily basis.”
A council spokesman said: “Our frontline staff have worked continuously throughout the pandemic with limited opportunity to take leave due to the impact of Covid-19. As restrictions are eased throughout the UK and beyond, staff are understandably requesting time off to recharge their batteries in what has been an extremely challenging 18 months.
“This allied to issues around self isolation, the pingdemic, normal sickness and the shortage of HGV drivers has created a perfect storm.
“While every effort is being made in Cardiff to recruit more HGV drivers, so that garden waste collections can resume as quickly as possible. The national shortage of HGV drivers has limited our ability to provide holiday cover via the recruitment agencies and many other local authorities across the UK are facing similar challenges.
“Almost a quarter of the drivers we require on a daily basis are currently unavailable for work and, due to the shortage of HGV drivers, recruitment agencies are struggling to provide staff to cover sickness and holidays, as they would ordinarily do.”