Unemptied bins - latest update
This is the reply to an email from Liberal Democrat Cllr David Faulkner asking questions of the responsible Cabinet Member relating to refuse collection, which we publish in full because so many people have been complaining to us about this essential front line service.
I must make it clear that no formal dispute has been declared. Hence there is no 'formal' negotiation process with Unions. Nevertheless, we are in almost daily contact with Unions, staff and managers.
The Leader of the Council has of course been kept up to date with developments on a daily basis, and attended meetings, although as you will understand, I am the responsible cabinet member leading on this.
We have held a number of meetings with the Trade Unions, including the Chief Executive, Cabinet Member, Director and Head of Service to look to achieve an outcome. The Chief Executive, Mick Murphy and myself have met with front line staff to listen to concerns, and further staff engagement sessions are currently underway, chaired by Mick Murphy. We are working very hard with all parties to try to overcome the operational difficulties we are experiencing.
Our aim here is to make the service sustainable and protect jobs in future years while conforming with legislation. We have made no changes to the length of rounds, and have no less front line resource because we have not proposed any redundancies in this area. Changes were outlined in the Integrated Impact Assessment as part of budget proposals approved by Council on 2 March 2016. A copy of the IIA is available on our website( that's www.newcastle.gov.uk)
It is worth advising that this has come as a result of a difficult budget process. This administration took a decision that the protection of jobs and front line services was one of the key drivers through the process.
IIA's alongside ongoing discussion including numerous workshops with the staff took place from October and at no stage did the issues being focussed on now come to the fore.
As we have not changed any of the rounds, it may be that some areas at the end of each round are consistently not getting bins collected on the normal date. We are considering how to deploy resources to mitigate this issue.
Regarding your point about 'backlog', we have made temporary arrangements so that this does not increase, and are trying to ensure, that no 'backlog' spills over from one week until the next.
You specifically asked about the cost of overtime work so far. The figures are £3,525; £4,775; and £2,649 in overtime payments for each of the last three weeks.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Regulatory Services