East Hampshire

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CREWS were drafted in from across southern England and a call centre in London was opened to deal with complaints after thousands of bins were not collected.

Biffa, the contractor which took over bin collections in the Winchester and East Hampshire districts last month, was forced to take on masses of extra resources to deal with a backlog of 3,600 missed bins.

An additional 23 crews and lorries were drafted in to empty bins across the two districts.

A private call centre in Wembley, London, was also hired to help cope with calls from angry residents. Biffa Waste Services Ltd will pick up the bill for it.

Winchester and East Hampshire Councils signed an eight-year contract with the company – which also now collects bins in Portsmouth – in a bid to save £2m a year.

A re-jig of the bin rounds meant many residents, in places like Denmead, had to wait 22 days before their bins were collected. But the problems worsened as bins were then missed in some areas.

Karen Gorshkov, 54, from New Road, Lovedean, had her recycling collected 10 days late and her refuse collected two days late.

She said: ‘To be fair, someone from the call centre did ring me back to make sure the bin had been collected. Most people don’t want bins left out for days on end. We will just have to wait and see how they get on now.’

Council officers said the backlog has now mostly been cleared with crews going out over the weekend.

Officials said crews are getting more familiar with their rounds and added ‘permanent solutions are being found for some of the recurrent problems’.

Councillor Judy Onslow, who heads environment at East Hampshire, said: ‘We are seeing a great improvement in the service to our residents. We’re working hard with Biffa to iron out many of the issues which have affected collections so far. Biffa have accepted responsibility for the lack of consistency with bin collections and officers from the district council have been working hard to ensure that crews have all the information they need. The service is improving but we still ask residents whose bins have not been collected to leave their bins out and call 0300 300 0013 or go to www.working-together.org.uk.’