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The Leader of South Hams District Council's Executive, Cllr Judy Pearce, has said it is "crucial that we separate the issues that FCC Environment had with the roll out of the new services, from the national shortage of LGV and HGV drivers" as the group of opposition councillors calls for SHDC to terminate FCC Environment's waste contract.
As the situation surrounding the waste contract gets more political, Cllr Pearce released a statement as Leader of the Executive alongside a statement released by SHDC's Deputy Chief Executive on behalf of the council.
Cllr Judy Pearce said: “We know that everyone is extremely frustrated by the situation, as are we. We are extremely sorry for the disruption that this has caused, but we are doing everything we can to put get our services back on track. It is very easy when you are in opposition to make alternative suggestions, which on the face of it seem like sensible solutions.
"But I would like the public to know that as the leading members of South Hams District Council, the Executive and I have done everything we can to seek a rapid resolution to this problem. Unfortunately certain factors have conspired against us, especially the timing of the national driver shortage, which has compounded the issues we were already experiencing.
“It is crucial that we separate the issues that FCC Environment had with the roll out of the new services, from the national shortage of LGV and HGV drivers. We know that there have been issues with the new service, but the reason for suspending garden waste has nothing to do with the roll out of the new service.
"The Road Hauliers Association estimates that there is a national shortfall of approx. 100,000 drivers. Therefore, like many of our neighbouring authorities, FCC Environment are putting the statutory services, waste and recycling first, and suggesting we suspend garden waste for the time being.
“The Executive and I will continue to work closely with officers to put either resources or pressure where it is needed most. However, sadly there is no quick fix. We do not want to make a knee jerk decision about the long term provision of this service, which puts us in a worse situation.”
South Hams District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive added “It has been suggested that the solution is to terminate the contract. However it simply isn’t that straightforward. The council is absolutely committed to working with FCC to ensure that they deliver against all aspects of the contract and improve the service to our residents as quickly as possible.
“It has also been suggested to us that we look to our neighbouring authorities, however as there is a national shortage of drivers, we cannot ask neighbouring authorities for help as they too are having to suspend or reduce waste collection services. West Devon, East Devon, North Devon, Teignbridge, Torbay, Plymouth, Somerset and Bristol are all experiencing disruption to their services because of this issue.
“I want to thank you for your patience, again I want to extend my apologies to you for the failures in service that you are experiencing.”
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