SWINDON Council is developing an action plan to avoid a repeat of last year’s green waste collection delays – where thousands of green bags were left piled up on the streets.

In September, Coun Fionuala Foley, the cabinet member for Streetsmart and corporate services, apologised to the public after contractor Swindon Commercial Services Ltd struggled to clear a week-long backlog, which filled up its storage capacity at Waterside Park and an off-site storage facility.

The council said there had been a massive increase in the volume of garden waste needing collecting this summer, due to ideal growing conditions and a householders using the kerbside service rather than taking sacks to the Household Recycling Centre themselves.

SCS is paid £6.4m annually for waste collection and a further £2.2m for handling waste at Waterside Park and the operation of the Household Waste Recycling Centre.

There were 79 complaints about green waste collection between January and October 2012, compared to just 38 in the whole of 2011.

Coun Foley said: “Last year’s unusually wet spring and summer created the perfect growing conditions and resulted in a huge volume of green waste, which we did not expect.

“As we have such a great kerbside service we also found many households were leaving out their green waste from large-scale pruning and garden clearances for collection instead of taking it down to the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Cheney Manor, which they would normally do.

“Unlike many councils, we provide a free green waste collection and we want to keep it this way, but we need to ensure we don’t suffer the backlogs we experienced last year.

“This is why we are looking at the service to see if we can make any changes to improve it.

“One message we need to get across to households is for them to keep using the Household Waste Recycling Centre if they are doing major work in their garden that creates a large amount of green waste.”

Coun Jim Grant, the Labour group leader, said: “If the council is going to provide a free green waste collection service and advertise as such, then it needs to be properly resourced to take into account the unpredictable nature of the weather.

“Labour believes this service should be kept, but we would make additional resources available as a contingency to make sure the service is delivered properly, no matter what the weather.

For more information visit the website www.swindon.gov.uk/waste.