Saturday, 16 August 2008

"Next Time You See A Dustman, Lookin' All Pale And Sad..."

...it might be because he works for Kirklees Council:
After industrial action left them without a rubbish collection for a month, the families of Birks Road were delighted to see the council lorry finally arrive.

But their relief turned to anger when the binmen announced that, while they would empty the households' wheelie bins, they would not take any loose bags which had piled up.

Two weeks later, they were still refusing to take away all the rubbish. And at this point, the quiet cul-de-sac in Huddersfield suddenly became a street under siege.
It seems the people of Birks Road suddenly realised that they were the ones employing these people, after all. So they took direct action:
One man parked his car across the street, preventing the lorry from getting out. Others formed a human chain around the truck while a group of children sat in front of it and refused to move.

Finally, after a two-hour stand-off, the binmen agreed to take all the rubbish and tranquillity was restored to Birks Road.
It appears the attitude of one of the council workers sparked the whole row:
Eventually, a rapid-response vehicle from the council arrived to collect the excess waste.

But that was not the end of the saga. 'A guy in a shirt and tie appeared and said, "To teach you a lesson we are not emptying the bins in the street", so we formed a human chain around the lorry,' said Mrs Jones.
To 'teach you a lesson'...? To 'teach you a bloody lesson'! He's lucky he didn't end up in the dustcart himself...

3 comments:

John M Ward said...

I note that they have been on fortnightly collections for several months, which clearly hasn't helped matters. Let that be a warning to all councils: it really isn't a good idea.

I'm surprised they still have council employees on this job. We put this (and other waste disposal/civic amenity matters) out to a very tough tender years ago, and ended up with a vastly better service (though not perfect!)

Council staff who were transferred to the contractor had to go on customer relations training to improve their manner (a clue there, perhaps, in regard to this story?) as standards were to be so much higher -- which they have ben, as my residents have reported.

Of course, we also had to impact to the service during the recent strike.

Hopefully, Kirklees will be able to change to a contracted provider of this service in the near future; and they really will need to have a seriously re-think of their fortnightly collections policy.

JuliaM said...

"Council staff who were transferred to the contractor had to go on customer relations training to improve their manner..."

Something the council never considered necessary...?

"...they really will need to have a seriously re-think of their fortnightly collections policy."

Big article in the Saturday 'Daily Express' this morning (doesn't appear in the online version) following up those councils who opted for fortnightly collects. Doesn't make pretty reading...

John M Ward said...

Nope, JuliaM, the council didn't. So, when we took over running things (although we didn't have an overall majority) we started to prepare for the time when the then current arrangements would end and we could set things in motion for a far better service.

Sure enough, after a very high-spec tender document was produced (and most of the 14 outfits that had 'em dropped out, as they couldn't meet the tough challenges, as they admitted to us) we secured what has been one of the country's best refuse et al services in the country. Even the public-at-large have been impressed(!)

Customer service standards were specified -- much higher than we had had before -- so the TUPE-d staff had little option but to be trained up to the new standard.

I get the strong impression that they are actually happier now than they were before, from my own observations and reports from residents. It's a different demeanour, and it shows.