Knowsley Council has apologised to residents who may have experienced an interruption in their usual bin collections recently as a result of staff shortages related to COVID.
Since the pandemic began, the council has prioritised bin collections, even re-deploying staff from other areas of work to ensure that this service could be delivered as normal.
But in recent weeks, with the rise of the Delta variant and the need for close contacts of positive cases to isolate for 10 days, it has been increasingly difficult for the council to keep up with collections whilst managing a high number of staff absences. With other council services now back up and running it has not been possible to re-deploy officers to cover these absences in sufficient numbers.
Now the council is reassuring residents who have not had a bin collection on their usual date that the crews WILL return to them – it may just take longer than the usual 48 hours to send a team back. In fact, operatives have been working on Saturdays for the past few weeks in a bid to clear the backlog.
Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said: “I totally understand the frustration of residents whose bins are not collected on time – but I would ask for some understanding at what are circumstances outside of our control.
“We’ve been living through this pandemic since March 2020 and we all know how disruptive it has been on every area of our lives. However, our waste collection crews have worked right throughout all the lockdowns to carry on delivering a service to residents. I know the vast majority of us are incredibly grateful for this – we all remember clapping for keyworkers like our waste operatives last year and all those lovely messages of thanks and pictures of rainbows that were left on people’s bins.
“But just like all of us – when our staff are asked to isolate, or are ill with COVID, they must not come to work, to protect both themselves and us. And unfortunately, we’ve had a high number of people in this position recently, which means we’ve been significantly short-staffed. It just isn’t possible for us to empty the same number of bins with less crews and less wagons.
“All the outstanding bins will be collected as soon as possible – and I’m grateful to those staff who have volunteered to work on their weekends to help with this.”
The council hopes to be able to return to a more normal collection service very soon.