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Waste chaos rumbles on 19 April, 2012

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters, News.
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Complaints from individuals continue to roll into me regarding missed rubbish collections nearly three weeks after the implementation of the new waste contract between Cory and Conservative-led Cornwall Council. The good news is that the majority of the complaints I have received have been dealt with after being referred to the relevant people. The bad news is that the problems show no signs of abating just yet.

It seems the main cause of the issues has been the moving around of collection staff who had previously been used to covering specific routes. Having been moved to another area, the staff – through no fault of their own – have had to learn the routes from scratch. This has led to the wrong vehicles being led down narrow lanes and some areas being forgotten entirely. It doesn’t appear that there has been any effective monitoring of this state of affairs by the Conservative-led administration.

There has been little response from the Tory leadership of the Council beyond a series of inadequate comments about “teething troubles”. Rubbish collection is the most tangible benefit people receive from their Council Tax and when this most basic of functions falls over people are justifiably angry. It boils down to a test of competence and the Tories are failing it badly.

I have written to the Leader of the Council and I reproduce the text below.

Dear Alec,

You and I are both aware that the new waste and recycling contract for Cornwall is a major undertaking. Everyone expected some teething problems in the form of missed collections, but trusted that these would be cleared up with a smile and an apology.

What has transpired in Cornwall since 2nd April is, I would suggest, of a different order.

Not only have there been thousands of missed collections, but the call centre has been jammed, thousands of homes have not received their new recycling containers, promises of action within 48 hours have been consistently broken, the wrong collection vehicles have been sent to narrow streets, lower levels of service have been imposed on residents without consultation or information and piles of uncollected refuse have littered our streets. In short, I believe that this entire transition has been mishandled.

Given the failures on this project, I would invite you to do three things:

First, that you and the council should stop pretending that these are only a few teething troubles and acknowledge that there are very large areas of Cornwall which have been failed by the new contract. Please issue a formal apology for these failures;

Second, we need to sort these problems out. I and my group have always been ready to assist in any way we can, but the pretence that there are no real problems and the lack of information is hindering moves to put the system right;

Finally, as a Council, we need to understand what went wrong. Was this a failure in preparation by either the Council or Cory? Why were so many collections missed and why could the call centre not cope? The latter is particularly important given that this is a service that we are considering selling to other public sector organisations. The waste and recycling service may be large, but it is hardly the only big contract let by this council. We need to ensure that the same chaos does not affect service changes in the future. I would therefore ask you to support my call for a full inquiry – led by the EP&E scrutiny committee – into the contract change and to ensure that officers and cabinet members make available any and all information requested by that committee.

Cabinet members are undoubtedly right when they say that there are aspects of the change which have gone extremely smoothly and we should recognise these successes. But we must also properly acknowledge the failings, apologise for them and ensure that they cannot happen again.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,



Changes to rubbish collections 26 March, 2012

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters, News.
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As you may already be aware, there will be changes to rubbish and recycling collections in Cornwall from 2nd April and in many cases this will involve different collection days and different containers for recycling.

To find out how the changes will affect you follow this link and to find out your new collection day use the postcode checker on the Cornwall Council homepage.

Britain’s first solar powered town? Episode Three 11 October, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters, News.
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Cornwall Council seemingly unconcerned about ragwort 19 August, 2011

Posted by Jeremy Rowe in Local Matters.
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I took the photo above at New County Hall earlier today. As a snapshot I think it tells a tale about Cornwall Council’s approach to ragwort this year. The St Issey Division, which stretches from St Eval across to St Tudy, seems to be awash with the weed this summer. There is a difference of opinion as to how harmful ragwort actually is, but the authority nevertheless has a duty to remove it, particularly given the efforts most landowners go to to ensure that their land is cleared before the weed goes to seed.