THE waste collection company which won the £44m contract to collect rubbish and recycling in Basingstoke and Deane has been dropped by another council following numerous complaints.

The Gazette has discovered that Canterbury City Council decided in March not to renew its 30-year contract with Serco when it expires in 2021.

The local newspaper reported that the company was “plagued by complaints since winning its latest contract in 2013” with two in five residents who responded to a survey saying they were “fairly or very dissatisfied” with Serco’s service.

It added: “It has repeatedly come in for criticism for missed bin collections, and in December was still failing to hit targets despite the city council making them easier to achieve and pumping an extra £140,000 a year into the service.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has repeatedly blamed the missed bin collections on “teething problems” following the introduction of a new timetable in July.

However, The Gazette is aware of complaints made prior to the new timetable launching, including in Bourdillon Gardens, Popley where bins were not collected for 11 weeks.

According to the council, this was only reported following the introduction of the round changes, and prior to this it said there were only a “couple of occasions where the recycling bins in the bin stores were un-emptied but this was because the recycling was contaminated”.

Labour councillor David Potter said: “Whilst the council, whoever that may mean, can seek to discredit me I hope they will not seek to say that residents who have experienced this unacceptable service are wrong or are lying because that would be very serious.

“It’s about time someone in the council took responsibility for this cock-up of a service. I would think the residents in question might make a reasonable claim for compensation and at the very least I think they are due an apology and repayment to them of council tax as no service has been provided for nearly three months.”

He added: “Opposition councillors expressed concern about Serco from the start and we were never confident that the required due diligence tests had been satisfied.”

The Gazette has asked the borough council for information about Serco’s ‘minimum miles’ route optimisation technology and how this works, following concerns that waste collectors are having to follow a different route each day, with information input into the software on a daily basis.

However, the council is yet to provide any detailed information about this.

Cllr Potter said he has also asked for information about this, but said no response had been given, adding: “We believe that not only are the operatives being faced with this confusion but a lack of clear supervision and management is adding to the problem of a contract which lurches from one problem to another.”

Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement Cllr Hayley Eachus said: “Serco carry out 156,000 waste, recycling, glass and garden waste collections every week in Basingstoke and Deane alone and this has been the case since they began work on the joint waste contract with Basingstoke and Hart in October 2018.

"If a bin is missed residents are asked and encouraged to report this within 24 hours and these reports tell us just a very small number (0.0003%) of the total bins collected weekly were missed from October 2018 to June 2019. Our teams work with the reports we receive from residents to rectify the problem if it is an ongoing issue. For the issue raised by the Gazette in Winchester Road we have received no reports of missed collections since we changed residents from bags to bins and moved the location of the bin collection point in March.

"We have had several reports of missed collections at Bourdillon Gardens in the few months before bin collections changed and these were dealt with and the bins cleared. There was an issue where the bin stores were missed for several weeks by the new crews after the revised collections started.

"We have resolved this by completely clearing all three bin stores, including where recycling has been contaminated with waste, which is something that we would not normally do.

"These communal areas are now being monitored by Serco. I intend to arrange a visit to the area to talk through the concerns raised by residents, discuss misuse of the bin areas and to ask for their feedback on how we can make recycling even easier in communal areas like this to ensure the right things are put in the right bins.”