Councils are actively calling for HGV drivers to join their bin crews to avoid disruptions to waste collections.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils are facing a shortage of HGV drivers as a result of the pandemic.

There are fewer newly-qualified drivers due to driving test delays and restrictions, as well as HGV drivers switching to delivery roles as demand for online purchasing surged. Additionally, travel restrictions mean fewer drivers are coming from overseas to look for work.

This is affecting a number of rounds in the districts where residents’ waste collections have been disrupted, so there is a proactive recruitment drive to prevent it becoming a wider problem. The councils’ waste contractor, Biffa, is currently managing the situation by providing staff the opportunity to work Saturdays and Sundays as overtime to catch up with missed collections, but the council says this is not sustainable in the long term.

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Councillor Catherine Webber Vale of White Horse cabinet member for climate emergency and environment said: “There have been several reasons for this shortage including travel restrictions for foreign workers due to Covid and Brexit. In addition, drivers have switched to other work. It also cannot be ignored that Oxfordshire is an expensive place to live and this may have deterred some people from moving to our area for work.

“We would kindly request our residents are patient with our bin crews who are currently working extra hard having already had a difficult year. It also offers an opportunity for us all to reduce our waste where possible, which will help everyone in the long term.”