New bin service cost council £2m more than expected

Overflowing black wheelie bins on a pavement on a rainy day with a Swindon Borough Council logo
Dozens of residents had overflowing bins when the collection service changed [BBC]

A council overspent about £2m to fix its new bin collections.

Swindon Borough Council's new recycling service suffered "serious issues" when it was rolled out at the end of 2023, resulting in overflowing bins for weeks.

Around 1,000 tonnes of extra household waste had to picked up by the council. Food waste prevention was also about 750 tonnes less than expected, the council confirmed.

“The issues stem from the poor preparations made by the previous administration, especially not procuring sufficient vehicles," cabinet member for finance councillor, Kevin Small, told a meeting.

Kevin Small smiling while standing in council room
Councillor Kevin Small explained that the council will have to continue to cut spending [BBC]

The borough council launched a new food waste collection at the end of 2023.

Under the new system, food waste is picked up weekly, while recycling and general waste collections are fortnightly.

Due to setbacks rolling out the collections, bin bags were left stacked up, which the council put down to "systemic issues" in the planning stages.

Councillor Chris Watts previously said there were problems with the computer system, vehicle capacity and the depot design.

Collecting the extra 1,000 tonnes of household waste caused by the issues cost the council £1.07m, while additional staffing, vehicles and equipment hire was £977,000.

An independent review into the problems are under way.

Discussing the council's overall budget, Mr Small told the meeting that the authority had been predicted an overall overspend of £15m, but had instead managed to underspend by £159,000.

To make the savings, the authority cut jobs, slashed a number of services as well as raising council tax.

“It doesn’t stop here, and we can’t take our foot off the gas," he added.

“The new savings programme will turn out to be as challenging as last year, and it will need a lot of hard work to keep within a balanced budget."

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