Documents shown to the Sutton Guardian reveal waste management company Veolia took urgent action in a bid to bring the chaotic refuse collections under control.
According to briefing notes given to councillors the company deployed an additional 11 crews from other contracts into Sutton on Saturday and six on Sunday. It also said afternoon support teams were needed to deal with missed collections.
Other steps taken by Veolia after it began the service on Saturday, April 1, include a £10 incentive to each waste collector for completing work on their schedule as they learned new routes.
The report also disclosed the company had identified that a number of maisonettes and blocks of flats had been ‘incorrectly allocated to communal waste rounds, where they should have been on household rounds.’
Read more: Borough reacts to chaotic new collections
Under the ‘new container deliveries’ section it was noted Veolia gave out 3,450 additional green recycling boxes to 1,150 residents outside B&Q on Saturday, but that the company had ‘underestimated attendance and traffic disruption levels’.
The smaller recycling boxes were one of five bins of varying sizes that were given to residents as part of the new mainly fortnightly service. Many complained they were too small to contain two weeks' worth of recyclables.
Scott Edgell, general manager at Veolia South London, commented the company had been working with the council to resolve issues related to the collections.
He said: “We are continuing to roll out the new rubbish and recycling collection service and are working hard to complete the transition process quickly. We are working with Sutton Council and residents to resolve any issues as smoothly as possible.
“On Saturday we arranged for residents to pick up free green recycling boxes as part of the service change. The event was very well attended with more than 1,150 keen recyclers taking part. We distributed recycling boxes to residents providing them with significant additional recycling capacity and everyone left with at least one box.
“We thank people for their patience and apologise for the inconvenience the introduction of these new services has caused.”
Further information in the document revealed showed 7,337 people, about 3.6 per cent of the borough’s population, called the contact centre at Sutton Council between Monday and Friday, last week.
Calls were mainly about missed collections, but also included failed deliveries of new containers and garden waste bins as well as requests for more recycling boxes.
Communications officers also responded to 1,059 tweets mainly regarding the size of the bins. The team also received 505 Google forms from residents who had not been given their new containers.
When asked when the council’s phone system would be back online a borough spokesman said: “Staff in our contact centre are working hard to answer calls as soon as possible but waiting times are much longer than usual. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.
Commenting on the report Tim Crowley, leader of the Conservative opposition at Sutton Council said: “One of the parts of the report that gave cause for concern was in relation to the call centre which during the course of the week had taken well over 7000 calls on the waste collection problems.
"How many thousands of residents had tried to get through but had not managed to do so? The council seem to be in denial about the level of angst this is causing.
“Veolia have been rightly pressured to pull their finger out so have put on extra crews over the weekend as well as having to offer incentive payments to operatives to do their jobs properly. It is obvious to us that the pre rollout preparation has not been thorough enough and this has led to many of these teething problems.
“The council pays a lot of taxpayers’ money to both Veolia and consultants who put this programme change together. All parties need to be held accountable for the problems this has caused many borough residents”
Residents still experiencing issues have been asked to fill an online form here, or call Veolia on 0203 567 6585 and 0203 567 6575.