Garden waste collections have been suspended and to the ongoing issues of a shortage of HGV drivers.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils.announced tha bin crews will be prioritising the collection of food waste, recycling and general waste collections following government guidelines in a bid to reduce the disruption to waste collections.

The disruption is due to the ongoing issues of a shortage of HGV drivers who are needed to drive the councils’ waste collection vehicles and an increasing number of waste collection staff being advised to self-isolate by the government’s Track and Trace system.

Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Many of our neighbouring councils have also taken the hard decision to suspend temporarily the garden waste service.

“Until it is back up and running again, people can take garden waste to the household waste recycling centres or they could, if feasible, try composting. There is advice on this on our websites.”

David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for Housing and Environment, said: “After all the difficulties at the start of the year where covid and self isolation resulted in the garden waste service being suspended this is not where we wanted or expected to be several months later. However, the recent ‘pingdemic’ has once again led to a shortage of drivers, and this has been made worse by our inability to train new drivers, because of a shortage of government test facilities, or to recruit drivers from abroad due to new rules introduced as a result of Brexit. The councils apologise wholeheartedly to garden waste customers but factors beyond our control have made this step inevitable.

“By suspending garden waste collections for a month should allow our crews to prioritise collections of food, recycling and general waste for every resident and mean they are not constantly trying to catch up, which is unsustainable.”

Many residents are concerned that the money they have paid to the council for their garden waste to be collected will not be reimbursed.

This is what our readers had to say about the suspended garden waste collections.

Andy Morris: "Looks like there's going to be lots of rubbish dumped outside council offices... hopefully."

Matt Jones: "Covid or Brexit with Europeans going back to their respective countries? Convenient excuse if you ask me. Same deal with hospitals and nurses I bet."

Sam Curran: "Something brewing , Cherwell council are starting a new food waste collection and bigger bins and changing for the service of collecting garden waste."

Sally Ridge: "They wont be stopping or refunding the fees for the garden waste bins though."

Amanda Mitchell: "In a post on the South Oxfordshire Gov page I read that as long as they do a minimum of 20 collections then they have honoured their commitment.

"Just after Christmas it was stopped for a while due to staff too, but it did not feel as bad in the winter.

"Summer is when it is used the most, we use it a lot less in the winter months.

"I get they can’t help staff levels, but it feels a little unfair.

"Not slating them having no staff I get that it has to be safe, but just a bit rubbish (no punt intended) as people pay extra for garden waste collection."

Nathan Bowers: "It is not all down to Covid, it is the HGV driver shortage.

"If the wages for dustcart drivers in the Vale are like those being advertised by Ubico they will never get drivers."

Julie Smith: "They have just taken my yearly payment, very convenient."

The councils hope to be able to reinstate the service after a month and will review the situation towards the end of August before providing an update.

There is more information available for garden waste customers on the councils' garden waste pages on their websites.

South and Vale District Council said: "We are confident that we can honour our commitment to provide a minimum of 20 collections a year for this paid for service.

"In normal years, we provide more collections than this partly thanks to our extra-large garden waste collections in the Spring and Autumn. We don’t envisage this year being any different, so nobody should be out of pocket."

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