Waste Services on Cabinet Agenda

Posted by: Kaye Russell on 08 July 2024 16:34

South Tyneside Council is delivering improvements across its waste services in response to an independent LGA/APSE Peer Review which took place earlier this year.

The Council invited the Local Government Association / Association for Public Service Excellence (LGA/APSE) Peer Review team in to evaluate Waste Services in March 2024, with early findings shared with all parties at the time.

The review aimed to complement dialogue with trade unions in a bid to resolve the ongoing industrial action which has disrupted waste collection services for the past nine months.

The Council has put residents at the heart of its response and is exploring all options around the delivery of waste services to ensure they are protected in the future.

An Action Plan was developed and agreed between the Council, GMB union and workforce back in April to help deliver on the Peer Review recommendations and address key issues.

The Council is already delivering on these, such as trialling new PPE with the workforce, starting work on rebalancing routes, regular communication with trade union and the workforce, and agreed revised annual leave booking process and better access to training and internal job opportunities, and its approach has been validated by the Peer Review Team.

The Peer Review team noted a need to rebuild trust so that the service can get back to delivering a high quality and consistent service for residents. In response, the Council has undertaken extensive engagement with teams, listening and acting upon concerns, including spending time out on the rounds with some crews, talking directly to them and hearing first hand some of the day-to-day challenges they face in delivering the service.

Cabinet members will hear more about the Peer Review, the outcome, progress being made to deliver the Action Plan and future delivery options, when they meet this Wednesday (10 July).

Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, said: "It's always extremely helpful to draw on the skills, expertise, and support of those who understand the pressures and challenges of running a public service to ensure we are doing all we can to provide the best possible service for our residents.

"We brought the independent Peer Review Team into the Council so that we could take stock of where we are within our Waste Service, to showcase the positive work in the service and use the feedback received from our peers to look at what we can do better and shape the service for the future.

"We have acted swiftly on the recommendations, working at pace to deliver the agreed Action Plan, so that we can bring forward the changes needed while continuing to work closely with the unions and engaging with our workforce and listening to residents.

"The people of South Tyneside are at the heart of what we are doing. We want to be able to deliver a proper, reliable, and efficient waste collection service for our residents."

A Peer Review is not an inspection, but a robust and rigorous assurance and improvement tool managed and delivered by the sector, for the sector.

The Waste Services Peer Review was designed to complement and add value to the Council's own performance and improvement focus as well as support the ongoing dialogue with trade unions, waste services management and the workforce.

It provided an understanding for all parties on how other councils operate as well as share best practice. However, ongoing industrial action has made it difficult for the Council to deliver a full and proper waste collection service for the residents of South Tyneside.

While contingency planning has limited the impact where possible, it has proved challenging given the unique circumstances of the action being taken and the reasons behind it.

The Council's Cabinet will also be asked to agree to detailed scoping work and research to be carried out, exploring alternative models of delivering the Borough's waste collection service. If agreed, this work will inform an options appraisal and subsequent business case of the preferred option for presentation to a future Cabinet meeting for further decision if required.

Councillor Gibson added: "The Council has a legal duty to provide a full and efficient waste service to our residents.

"Despite the Council's best efforts, ongoing industrial action, and action short of strike, has caused huge disruption and significant backlogs which has affected overall delivery of services for many months and has had a huge impact on our residents right across the Borough. We must do everything possible to protect the impact on our communities.

"The delivery of this vital service is a top priority for us and residents would expect us to look at all options to protect this service. This is what we are now doing. We are simply exploring options around this for our waste services.

"It is important to note that no decisions have been taken. This is just about looking at the options in more detail, so that we can ensure residents get the service they need and expect, now and in the future."

The Council has a duty to collect household waste under section 45 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, as amended. The ongoing disruption to the collection of household waste is preventing the council from discharging its obligations as a Waste Collection Authority.

The LGA/APSE Peer Review final report will be made available on the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk

 

Last modified: 08 July 2024 17:25