Ansa - bin lorries at cledford lane rubbish recycling hub

Ansa managers were forced to drive bin lorries to maintain Cheshire East collections when the service was threatened by driver shortages, writes Belinda Ryan.

Cheshire East was one of the few councils which managed to keep bin collections, including recyclables and garden waste, going during pandemic lockdowns.

And it has emerged that was partly down to managers who got behind the wheel themselves to help out when collections were threatened by the HGV driver shortage.

Cheshire East chief executive Lorraine O’Donnell said: “This summer period, and where we are now, has been one of the trickiest.

“If you can imagine there’s three people in a cab, one is positive or has to self isolate, then that usually means the other colleagues too.

“And then the HGV drivers [shortage].

“Our colleagues at Ansa were telling me that the latest position on this is that where we have drivers who were asked to self-isolate then, where they had the appropriate qualifications obviously, managers were then standing in for the drivers.

“That’s really the commitment to saying the service must go on.

“We haven’t cancelled or postponed any of our collections, but sometimes that’s meant that there’s been a driver who hasn’t been as familiar with the route as the one he’s taken over from, so there have been a few more missed bins.

“But when you look at how many councils across the country have had to cancel, postpone collections or drop from fortnightly to three weeks or so on, we haven’t done any of that.”

Former council leader Cllr Rachel Bailey (Audlem, Con) recently told a meeting of the audit and governance committee how, when a bin lorry had broken down near her home, the operatives had asked her to contact residents through social media and other means to explain the delay.

“That shows their commitment and how proud they are of what they do,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Last month Ansa, the council’s wholly-owned company responsible for collecting waste and managing Cheshire East’s household recycling centres, won national recognition.

The waste management and recycling service was voted best service team at The Association for Public Service Excellence Awards.

Ansa makes more than 13 million collections a year.

Last year complaints from Cheshire East residents about the service were down by 41%, from 1,014 in 2019/20 to 598 last year.

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