Letter to Garden Waste customers in South Oxfordshire

Dear Garden Waste customers in South Oxfordshire

As some of you already know, like many other local authorities, we have had to temporarily delay the start of our garden waste service which was due to commence on 11 January following the usual suspension over Christmas and New Year, which we do to allow crews to focus on collecting the extra waste and recycling created over the holidays.

COVID infection rates have increased rapidly in the area recently and our staff and contractors are not immune from this. Due to reduced staffing levels as a result of crews being ill or self-isolating we have had to extend the suspension of the service for longer to allow the remaining staff to work on the core food and household waste collections.

We want to reassure you that along with our contractors Biffa we have explored all the options possible to avoid this situation as we realise that this will cause some inconvenience and we are genuinely sorry for this. However, the safety of our crews and residents must always be our number one priority.

We are working with our contractor to closely monitor the current situation and our aim is review the staffing levels in the week commencing 18 January with a view to restarting the service as soon as possible after that date.

Whilst we have had to delay our kerbside Christmas tree recycling service until our garden waste service resumes, if you’d rather not wait, you can take it to one of our collection points or to one of Oxfordshire County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres. These sites are open but please check their website for opening times and any restrictions, particularly Covid-19 restrictions.

We are confident that we can still honour our commitment to providing the 20 collections a year we offer for this paid-for service. We are normally able to offer more collections than this with our extra-large garden waste collections in the Spring and Autumn, and don’t envisage this year being any different. We hope to be able to confirm this when the service resumes to ensure customers are not out of pocket.

Since the first lockdown in March 2020 as part of the national effort to control the pandemic, the councils have worked with their waste contractor Biffa to ensure the waste collection service has run with little or no disruption, and we are grateful to our crews for the work they have done throughout this period.

While we have contingency plans for this type of situation, the level of staffing at this time is much lower than anticipated due to such a high number of staff being off work or self-isolating due to Covid-19.

By suspending the garden waste service during the winter when it is used less frequently, the councils and their waste contractor can focus on continuing to deliver core household waste collection services for residents.

Please note that we are also not able to take on any new garden waste customers at this time, but we will review this again when the situation with the service changes.

Again we apologise for any inconvenience and will let you know as soon as we’re able to reinstate the service for existing customers, which will be when it is logistically possible and safe to do so.

Councillor David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and environment

On behalf of South Oxfordshire District Council