Current service update

9 September update 

The Garden Waste collection service in Elmbridge is currently suspended for the foreseeable future. Full details below.

From the Chief Executive of Elmbridge Borough Council

Dear Customer

The Suspension of the Garden Waste Collection Service in Elmbridge

It is important that I send you this message to explain why you have experienced disruption to your garden waste service over the last few weeks and to detail the path ahead.

An apology

Firstly, I want to apologise to you for the service disruption. I understand how inconvenient and frustrating a disrupted service can be; especially a service you pay for.  The reason is almost entirely the result of the national shortage of HGV drivers which you will have seen widely reported. 

Over the summer we have been working with our contractor Amey to ensure the waste crews are deployed to maximum capacity.  Overtime has been made available, pay and retention bonuses have been announced and we have trawled the employment agencies to seek additional drivers. The fact is that HGV drivers are in great demand and there are not enough to go around.  

Prioritising core services

Throughout this time, our aim has been to prioritise the core waste services (rubbish and recycling). Which is why we decided to have a rolling programme of garden waste suspensions across the boroughs in the waste service contract (Elmbridge, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath and Woking). While this solution helped initially, additional driver shortages and our determination to protect the core waste collection service has brought us to the unfortunate conclusion that we must suspend garden waste collection services across Elmbridge for the foreseeable future.

Suspension of garden waste services

The suspension is effective immediately and will run for some months to come. At this time, I am reluctant to put a date on the resumption of services until we know the results of our mitigation efforts. When we can provide a date for the resumption of services, I will update you again.

This is a huge blow for many of you, especially those with bins full of garden waste expecting it to be emptied from next week. We told you in good faith that we would resume services after 10 September, but the situation has worsened since then and I can only apologise that our message to you has had to change.

What we are doing to resolve the situation

Our 'what we are doing' webpage has much more detail on what we are doing to resolve this situation but in brief I can tell you a few of the measures being implemented with our contractor:

  • Recruitment and retention bonuses for drivers
  • HGV driver training of other crew members 
  • Referrals fees paid to current crews bringing in other drivers
  • We have approached charity work programmes for drivers
  • Apprenticeships
  • Government has and will continue to be lobbied by us and our contractors to help resolve this desperate situation

What can I do with my garden waste?

If you currently have a bin full of garden waste, an option is to leave it until the service is resumed. I know this is not the answer you want but I also know that transporting garden waste directly from the bin to your local tip in your car can be unpleasant.

Our 'what you can do' webpage has all the options available to you to help you dispose of your garden waste, including:

  • Composting: This is a viable solution that is of course beneficial for our garden and for the environment. 
  • Putting your garden waste in large plastic sacks and bringing it to your local tip. You can find those details on our 'what you can do' webpage.

What about my subscription?

We will automatically extend your garden waste contract during the period of the suspension, therefore, you will not be paying for a service that we currently cannot provide. I recognise that a few subscribers may want to stop the service permanently and you will find further details 

This is not the type of correspondence I wanted to send. I have been incredibly proud of Elmbridge Borough Council’s response to the COVID pandemic over the last 18 months and the hard work and dedication it has taken for our services to keep going largely uninterrupted but as is often the case, national matters also impact Elmbridge and we feel that taking this action now will protect the core waste service. I hope you can understand, and I thank you for your patience while we work to find solutions.

Please do keep up to date with the situation on our garden waste service webpage, where you find more information on all the matters referenced in this correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Moran, Chief Executive, Elmbridge Borough Council

Garden waste refunds

We are automatically extending your subscription period to cover the number of months that the service will be suspended (starting from 1 August 2021). However, we appreciate for some customers they might prefer to cancel their subscription and receive a refund instead of an extension.  

  • A refund will be given for the number of months left on your subscription after 31 July 2021, not the full year. 
  • The amount left on your subscription period will be refunded after the empty garden waste bin has been collected. 

Refund amounts

  • For 1 bin subscriptions paid in 2021: £4.08 for each full month remaining 
  • For 2 bin subscriptions paid in 2021: £8.08 for each full month remaining 
  • For 1 bin subscriptions paid in 2020: £3.75 for each full month remaining 
  • For 2 bin subscriptions paid in 2020: £7.08 for each full month remaining 

Please request your refund. The council is not currently accepting new subscriptions so it may not be possible to re-join the service at a later date.

Note: As suspending garden waste collection is a policy decision, it does not fall under our complaints process.

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