The waste and recycling team have been working hard to bring the service under control. The delays are expected while we retrospectively clear backlogs and bolster the service with support vehicles, and there should be no more than 24 hours delay for recycling as of next week.
Anything later than this will need to be investigated and we will need to check the status on the system.
It is undeniable that the delays in the service, particularly with recycling have been unacceptable and well documented. We expected teething issues but the challenges have moved beyond this.
With regards to recycling, the system was ill conceived through the project planning stage in 2022 where many assumptions and calculations were incorrect to the point of being systemic. Appropriate resources were not assigned to this project management stage, data used was inaccurate when planning routes with several thousand properties missing and not enough recycling wagons ordered.
The functionality, inflexibility and capacity of the recycling wagons were not understood. For example, the cardboard compartment is no bigger than a medium size transit van. The plastic/metal compartment has to be compacted approximately every 10 household collections, a process that takes 2 minutes. (For a route that has 500 households, that equates to 1 hour 40 minutes a day and accounts for 25 hours a day across the fleet.) This is not a criticism of the wagons as they are what they are, but it would have been crucial that these metrics were understood and accounted for in the early planning stage. I do not believe they were properly taken into consideration.
As someone from a datacomms background, I am astounded by the lack of personnel resource or planning deployed for implementing a fit for purpose back-office system that would have supported the service and supervisors.  The technology is readily available and proven and would have been of massive benefit to the service, especially in times of stress like these. The supervisors are working blind with a limited system that provides the bare minimum of intelligence to the team.
As a new administration the task that we have is to reverse engineer the 2022 project management stage, cleanse the data, re-optimise the routes and re-launch.
The original project management stage identified that 14 recycling wagons would suffice. Subsequently, this was considerably short of the mark, and we believe that 18/19 routes are required. We have ordered additional recycling wagons, and they will be delivered in May/June this year. We have support vehicles to help the service, but these are limited as to their use, i.e. no food pods and can only collect two recyclate streams per round. This does help the recycling vehicles but causes confusion to residents and split-collection is not supported by an inflexible back-office system.
We have started the data cleansing process and will be restarting the project planning stage for the implementation of back-office systems that is fit for purpose. I suspect this will be a medium-term project over the next 12 months. I would like to see CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality incorporated that directly messages residents on various media platforms of any delays or issues. Uber style wagon tracking should be feasible and an associated alternative front end app available. The system needs to be able to provide instant intelligence and information that would allow the teams to be more pro-active as opposed the reactive back-foot approach we currently have. None of this is rocket science, innovative or cutting edge, but does highlight the lack of resource, imagination and ambition in 2022 in the planning stage.
I will be creating a CMAG (Cabinet Member Advisory Group) to take us through the next stage of rebuilding the service and revisiting project management that should have been completed in 2022.
I will reiterate that the crews and supervisors have been working extremely hard to minimise disruption and the false narrative and exaggerated claims that has been circulated by the Conservatives has been very upsetting for them. We must ensure that we show our support for the teams at all times as they continue to work hard for Swindon.
Best Regards
Chris Watts
Old Town Ward
Cabinet Member for
The Environment and Transport
Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search