Residents have been sending photographs to Mr Mustard of their bins. Things haven't yet settled down since the great bin rescheduling of 5 November 2018 (the cunning plans should have been put on the bonfire).
There have been management changes. Jamie Blake, the strategic Director for the Environment left after 4 years and 7 months to go to Newham. The council website says his replacement is Geoff Mee. The street scene director, responsible for implementing the bonkers reorganisation, Ms Kitran Eastman, left in September 19, and word which reached Mr Mustard was that she was dead against the plans which is impossible if others design and then force through the implementation of a duff idea, what is one to do? You end up carrying the can if you don't get out. The head of HR has also changed but Capita provide that so where is the surprise. Also mentioned in the June 18 report to the Environment Committee was the Head of Street Scene Service Support, Mr Richard Gilbert who also left, in his case in April 2020 and joined Barking & Dagenham Council. Goodness knows who else who was involved in the designing and implementing of the November 2018 changes who has left for pastures new where bin rounds run like clockwork.
The pandemic has put extra strain on the service as there are more home deliveries and thus more boxes to dispose of.
The council have suspended green waste collections so much of it is ending up at the bottom of the black bins under general waste and bin men don't therefore see it when they open the bin lid and into the lorry it goes. The blue recycling was weekly then fortnightly and then back to weekly again at during the fortnightly hiatus random lorries were roaming the streets causing confusion in the minds of the public. Guess where some residents' recycling ended up when the blue bins were fortnightly, yes in general waste.
Two years ago the green bins of most the borough used to be collected on a Saturday on overtime and Mr Mustard hears that the plan is to revert to that system as, wait for it, it worked.
Ten or a dozen new vehicles were purchased to support the November 18 reorganisation. They turned out to be too big for a number of Barnet's streets, the older ones which were built when the horse and cart was the dustman's transport of choice. Larger lorries were ordered as some genius thought that would reduce the number of trips to the tip but they proved to be impractical. More new dustcarts are coming in 2020, they will be the same larger size so equally limited.
The Oakleigh Park depot will soon approach its third birthday. The subsidence at this white elephant, for which the council overpaid by £millions, is spreading. You will note if you drive down there some buttressing on the pavement in Oakleigh Road South.
Time banded collections were introduced in Mill Hill. That led to innocent people being given fixed penalty notices after the council themselves failed to stick to the collection times. Banded collections work in organised councils, we are talking about Barnet though.
Mr Mustard hears that the contents of recycling lorries are getting rejected at Hendon Tip because they are contaminated with food (food collection is paused but the waste has to go somewhere) green waste (partly thanks to the introduction of charging although collection is also now paused) and builders' rubbish as the Summers Lane Recycling Centre is closed as are many commercial tips.
So there we are 18 months after a reorganisation which was meant to save £1,200,000 a year. Needless to say it hasn't, with huge costs spent on agency staff, over 40 of them on some days. They have now all been stood down, Mr Mustard hopes we have sufficient permanent staff remaining especially as some must be off due to the virus and as they cannot self isolate in the cab. The bin lorry staff are doing their best, give them a friendly wave when you see them. Management's failings are not of their making.
What Mr Mustard suggests is we turn the clock back to the start of 2018 when, apart from the odd missed collection, everything worked and then consider changes, test them out one at once, implement them if they work and put them aside if they don't. The big bang approach led to a big mess, tinkering will not fix that.