Rubbish collections will return to normal next week after a month of delays, complaints from residents, and increased rat sightings across the borough.
As the News reported on Monday, refuse and recycling was piling up across Southwark with the council and Veolia blaming COVID-19, snow and icy roads for the faltering service. Around a third of refuse staff are either sick or self-isolating.
Although Southwark Council had hoped the service would already back to normal early this week, Veolia told the News they would not be able to catch up until Friday (February 26).
“Our teams have been working exceptionally hard to deliver vital services for the community as the pandemic continues,” a Veolia spokesperson said.
“A number of our operatives have been self isolating, in line with government guidelines, shielding or absent as a result of COVID-19.
“This reduction in staff, coupled with adverse weather conditions earlier in the month, had a knock-on effect on collection schedules.
“Every effort has been made to recover missed collections as safely and efficiently as possible, including taking on extra staff and running catch up rounds in the afternoon.
“We anticipate all collections will be completed and the services return to normal, COVID notwithstanding, by the end of this week.
“We appreciate resident frustration and ask them to bear with us during this very difficult time.
“We are doing everything we can to guarantee a good service and ask residents to check Southwark Council’s webpages for service updates or to report a missed collection.”
Cllr Catherine Rose, Tooley Street’s cabinet member for leisure, environment and roads, apologised to residents.
“We sincerely apologise for the disruption to our waste collection service,” she said.
“A combination of COVID-related staff sickness and days lost to poor weather, have regrettably caused delays and missed collections.
“Despite contingency planning and a heroic effort from our waste collection crews throughout the pandemic, the problems experienced by a number of our residents have been unacceptable.
“I am extremely grateful to our hard working estate cleaning teams who were deployed to assist our contractor, Veolia, with their clean up over the weekend.”
She added: “During the affected period, we received an influx of missed collection reports from residents. We apologise to those who were kept waiting.
“However, all efforts were focused on completing the outstanding collections and people can now use the website as before, to report any missed collections.
“Moving forward, we are working to improve our online offer, and provide a more responsive service for people in Southwark.
“We will also make sure that information and advice about any service changes are efficiently passed on to residents.
“While many of our experienced staff are now back at work, we will need help from agency workers until government restrictions are lifted.
“If, due to this, a section of a route is missed or left incomplete, we ask that people please log any collection that is a day or more late on the council website and we will get to it as soon as we can.”