Over the weekend I received a number of emails from residents complaining that their green garden waste hadn't been collected for the last two months. It is clear that given the location of the messages that it was an issue with a single crew not doing their job properly, as opposed to the residents not 'presenting' their bins in the right way.
The Council's website clearly says:
Our green garden waste service offers collections every 2 weeks for £68.29 a year.
If you were buying any other item or service, you would be entitled to a refund if it weren't delivered to a satisfactory standard. But not in Labour-run Croydon!
After a lot of chasing, I received an acknowledgement from the Council that the contractor was indeed at fault:
Veolia managers have agreed to collect all the excess waste presented in clear bags on the next scheduled collection as there will not be a refund for the missed collections.
In Section 10 of the terms and conditions for the Garden Waste Service; we do not offer refunds or extensions of service.
I have inserted the section below:
10. Cancellation and Refund
The Parties can cancel the Services in the following ways:
10.1. Before the Council begins to provide the chargeable garden waste Service, you may cancel your Application within 14 working days of making payment. In this case, the Council will refund the payment made for the garden waste Service. However, the Council will not refund any money if the cancellation is not made within 14 working days of the payment being made.
10.2. Once you are receiving the chargeable garden waste Service, you may cancel the contract for the Service at any time by providing the Council with at least one month’s notice via www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount. Please note you will not be refunded any of the amount paid at the time of your application.
I would like to apologise on behalf of our contractor for the inconvenience caused.
It is, in my view, a disgrace that residents are not able to seek redress for when a purchased service is not provided. Residents pay good money to Croydon Council to get their garden waste collected, if they do not get it collected they should receive a refund. We wouldn't tolerate it in any other part of our life and yet they are, in essence, trapped. Either they buy this service (for which there is no guarantee they'll receive it) or they don't and they are unable to dispose of the garden waste responsibly.
This Labour administration failing at every possible turn, and this is just the latest example of them making hardworking local residents pay for their shoddy incompetence.
May 2022's local elections can't come soon enough. It's time to boot them out of our Town Hall before they do any more damage and elect a Conservative administration to clear up their mess.
UPDATE: 20th July 2021
I've been contacted by two residents so far today, both informing me that their green garden waste was yet again not collected.
As you can see above, we were given a clear assurance that it would be - "Veolia managers have agreed to collect all the excess waste"
If that weren't bad enough, a third tells me that her mother - a frail 83-year-old lady - plucked up the courage to speak to the Veolia crew to ask them to take her waste.
My Mum spoke with the guy collecting and he was incredibly rude to her. She is 83 as are most of the residents along that piece of road. She is in very ill health and I am disgusted with what has happened this morning. I will not let this rest.
She is absolutely right to be furious. If this exchange is to be believed then it is completely unacceptable for any Council contractor to engage a resident in this way.
I have taken up both the lack of the promised collection and this aggression up with the Council, demanding a full explanation.
As ever, I will update this page with any information as soon as I receive it.
UPDATE: 4TH AUGUST 2021
A fortnight ago I sent questions to the Council and requested urgent answers to guarantee service is resumed and compensation is considered. Today I received replies:
1. Residents have not received their fortnightly service for eight weeks in many instances. As you have clarified the issue was not the fault of the residents (the bins were collected fine before then) what compensation will be provided to these properties? An extension to their service period?
Refunds are not provided as stated in the Ts and Cs of the service agreement in place with residents. We are however sensitive to this and are looking into the possibility of extending the contract period for a longer subscription period. I will update you further when more information is known
2. Residents have been complaining for months about this service being not provided. What happened to those complaints? Why were they ignored? If a fault in the system then what has been done to rectify the error so it doesn’t happen again?
We did identify an issue with the online complaints notification process last month and this has now been rectified. Complaints were coming in to the council but were not being properly redirected to the correct service areas. The system and process has worked perfectly since then. Can assure you that no complaint is ignored and this is managed as a measureable and reportable contract performance indicator
3. Last week I was given an apology for the poor service and a guarantee the eight weeks worth of waste would be collected. In some instances not only was the brown bin not collected but the clear bags they were instructed to leave next to the bin were left:
a) why did that not happen? What went wrong with the process? Will speak to the team regarding this instruction. Normally green waste in plastic bags will not be collected as this serves as a contaminant with no ability to separate the plastic from the waste.
b) will they *all* be collected at the next scheduled visit by the Veolia crew? I will however ensure that all wastes are cleared from all properties at the next collection
4. On Tuesday when some of the bins were finally emptied the bins were not returned to where they were found, leaving the many elderly and disabled residents living there to have to struggle to reclaim their bins. Again, the previous crew had no issue returning the bins to their original location. Can I please have a guarantee this won’t happen at next collection?
You have my assurances Cllr, the ongoing lack of HGV drivers in the UK is impacting significantly on waste collections in the borough with many collection teams being ‘double shifted’ to ensure that all collections across all services are being made. Meaning that usual levels of customer care are dropping as a consequence, I will remind Veolia of their responsibility in this regard
5. One elderly resident claims she was treated aggressively by a member of the crew. What are the results of your investigation into this? What will happen as a result?
I understand that the internal investigation and disciplinary process is underway at Veolia and we will be informed of all outcomes.
I am grateful to the team at the Council for taking the time to answer my questions, and as of this morning I've not been informed of any missed collections so I'm hoping the service has now been fully resumed.
I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure residents receive the service they pay for.