It is clear that in spite of assurances given before the contract started on 3rd April, Veolia had underprepared for the scale of the task.
As your Councillors, we made it clear that this was totally unacceptable and we have been putting considerable pressure on Veolia to deliver the service that we all expect.
Whilst kerb side collections are now working well in most areas, there are still problems with bin collections in some blocks of flats and some heavily parked roads. We are working with Veolia and Council officers to address these on a case-by-case basis.
Since the start of the service we have:
- Increased monitoring of Veolia’s performance. Two members of staff have been in Veolia’s offices to look at their practices and they have produced a report with recommendations for immediate improvements in the way they run the service. These improvements have already started to be implemented and much of the emphasis will be on a coordinated programme for blocks of flats. The Council has committed a Programme Manager for this purpose.
- Produced a list of most urgent hotspots for missed collections compiled by Councillors with the aim of prioritising these and finding permanent solutions.
- Set up a weekly meeting of an ‘Improvement Board’ attended by the Council’s Chief Executive, Director of Environment and attended by Veolia’s London regional director.
- Encouraged Veolia to respond more quickly to deliver customer orders for additional boxes and wheelie bins. 10,000 had been delivered by the end of June, with others delivered since, mainly orders for recycling boxes.
- Sought improvements to the Council’s IT system so that residents can more easily report missed collections or missed delivery of bins, and to ensure that the Council’s IT systems “talk” with Veolia’s
- Extra staff at the Customer Contact Centre to deal with residents’ queries and reduce call waiting times The number of queries have reduced as problems are being solved.
- Urging Veolia to recruit more permanent, local staff to reduce their reliance on agency staff, and to adjust the shift pattern to gain consistency of service.
- Encouraged Veolia to undertake more careful monitoring and management of staff and ensure all the refuse crews are better trained and committed to providing an excellent service to Sutton residents.
- Set up a Scrutiny Committee that will look at the waste contract, collecting evidence from a range of stakeholders and residents, and scrutinizing all relevant aspects like IT, communications, mobilization and contract operations.
- Financial penalties have come into force for missing key performance indicators. The first set of penalties will take effect in August based on the level of missed collections and other service issues in July (There are 29 KPI, with 13 for waste collection).
- Bin hangers will be placed on contaminated bins (refuse mixed with recycling). This will help clarify why on some occasions bins are not collected. These should be in place in the next few weeks.