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Lib Dem councillor for NHDC Lisa Nash and Robert Ellis Court resident Trevor Tolliday

People living in a Knebworth retirement complex say maggot-infested food waste bins haven't been collected for weeks.

People living in apartments at Robert Ellis Court have had to contend with the stench, overflowing bins and bugs for three months while struggling to report the issues over the phone.

It comes as North Herts District Council continues to receive daily complaints about missed collections across the area since problems began in May.

The council has apologised and says it's working with waste contractor Urbaser to resolve the issues.

But, Lib Dem councillor for NHDC Lisa Nash says those affected should receive some sort of compensation.

"People are very, very frustrated," she said. "We've got some very elderly people that can't get through on the phone and they are quite distressed.

"I went to see an elderly lady who can barely breathe and she spent a long time on the phone, and had to give up.

"We've had whole roads missed, whether it's garden waste, food waste or rubbish. I think we've had three apologies now and still we're having these dreadful problems."  

The council's executive member for waste and recycling, Michael Weeks, told BOB fm: "We would have hoped that by now, things would have much improved, but unfortunately there are still some issues.

These are isolated - it may not sound like it from the people you've been speaking to, but there is, to some extent, exaggeration here by certain factions.

Things have improved and with effort and resources being thrown at these by Urbaser, the contractor. They will continue to improve, I am confident of that".

Mr Weeks continued: "The statement from Urbaser (below) shows you the efforts they're putting into it, with extra staff and extra supervisors out on the road. That will help to help to educate the crews, who have a certain lack of geographical knowledge of the district.

I honestly believe that with perseverance and the assistance of my council colleagues - rather than the latter showing negativity and perhaps mischief-making - we will get there. That's my firm belief.

This contract is with two local authorities, including East Hertfordshire, where there are virtually no issues whatsoever. There is a procedure called 'performance management, which kicks in next week, and we will be closely looking at their failures in the contract thus far.

I believe that things will get better. I have said that before and I will say it again".

In a statement, Urbaser Limited added: "Urbaser Ltd would like to sincerely apologise for the recent waste collection problems which residents in North Hertfordshire have been experiencing. We would like to reassure you that we are fully committed to working with the Council to ensure that the residents of North Hertfordshire receive the expected levels of service.

Residents may be aware that at the start of our new contract in May 2018, we experienced problems with the data for those people who had subscribed to the brown bin garden waste service. These initial data issues have since been resolved, however there have also been problems with new rounds for brown bin and food waste in particular, where crews are getting used to the new rounds and new collections systems. We have also been experiencing some employment related issues which we are addressing, but we acknowledge these have contributed to the current problems".

The statement continues: "Unfortunately, the issues above have resulted in large numbers of missed bins, which have in turn resulted in a high volume of phone calls to our call centre. To improve performance we have:

:: Increased resources for the brown bin and food waste collections

:: Added a temporary crew to catch up with the large number of missed bins

:: Increased resources in the call centre

:: Carried out ongoing meetings with the workforce and Union to minimise some employment related issues

:: Temporarily increased supervisory staff levels and are ensuring a regular presence from the Urbaser senior management team to ensure issues are being swiftly resolved

Finally, we know that the level of service has not been up to the standard that residents expect and we are doing our utmost to come up with solutions so that normal service can be resumed as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued patience and for bearing with us".

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