Letter from ECDC regarding Action Plan for the Waste and Recycling service

Published: 10 October 2022

Good Afternoon


I am writing to update your members on the implementation of the Action Plan for the Waste and Recycling service.


Firstly, can I thank you and your members for drawing our attention to recent problems with missed collections and assisted lifts.  Please accept my apologies to you and your residents for the failure to meet the usual standards they should expect from this very important service.


The challenges we have faced and are still facing have been considerable, some of our own making and many outside of our control.  Round reconfiguration, though essential, caused short term difficulties, particularly where crews were operating in new areas.  In addition, the service has faced HGV driver shortage and cost of living challenges.


As Chief Executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council and Managing Director, East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS), I have taken responsibility for the implementation of an Action Plan for the service designed to address those short term issues and provide longer term resilience when future challenges inevitably arise.


The Action Plan has focused on a number of key strands, specifically:


  1. Initially, we focused on bringing in external private sector resources from Countrystyle Recycling to deal with backlogs and introduced a temporary package for staff to shore up the recruitment and retention problems of the service.


  1. Securing external consultancy to review the reconfiguration, assessing the value of employing external contractors to deal with short term resource issues and make recommendations on the level of future in house resources.


  1. Better engagement with the staff and their trade union representatives including reviewing terms and conditions of staff and working arrangements.  A formal Joint Consultative Committee consisting of employer and employee representative was established for the first time in August.


Although the service remains vulnerable to short term absences of key operational staff, we are beginning to see an improvement in the incidences of missed collections and assisted lifts.


We have now made considerable progress in all aspects of the Action Plan, specifically,


▪         We have now received the final report of the external consultancy report and the

main conclusions are summarised below:        


  • there is no requirement to further reconfigure rounds as there are sufficient rounds in place to complete all collections on a daily basis;


  • to ensure that this position is sustainable, the consultants have identified a number of recommendations, specifically, reform of the current ‘task and finish’ by round arrangements, additional in house HGV resources and equalisation of hours across the working week;


  • external operational support from the private sector is limited and the service should not rely on it as a sustainable solution.  Nevertheless, the consultants identified that external contractual support may be more available to support the Street Cleaning service in order to free up in house HGV resources and the service overall should be less reliable on agency labour;


▪         The negotiations between myself and UNISON are well advanced and a formal consultation with all staff and UNISON will begin next week with a view to reaching an agreement by end October 2022.  This agreement will seek to address the cost of living concerns of staff, their terms and conditions, changes to working practices and recruitment and retention.


I will update you again when an agreement has been secured with more details. 


Thank you again for your attention.




John Hill

Chief Executive, East Cambridgeshire District Council

Managing Director, ECSS