One million bin or recycling collections have been missed in Swindon since the middle of May last year.

That’s according to Conservative councillors, who have counted a bin not collected on its allocated day as one missed collection, and they say for each extra day it remains uncollected that counts as another separate missed collection.

That tally is disputed by members of the Labour administration, who say that’s "double and triple counting" and that such an example is more accurately just one missed collection.

The Conservative-collated figures say between May 18 and late November, under the old collection system, 572,399 homes had missed collections, a 12 per cent failure rate.

After the new regime was introduced on November 27 until February 15, 476,100 homes had missed collections, a 43 per cent failure rate.

Councillor Gary Sumner, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: "It doesn't matter whether you look at the old system of rubbish collection in Swindon or the new system introduced, it has been a shambles all year.

“Swindon had a two-month summer bin crisis because staff were encouraged to go on holiday without backfilling shifts. December was the start of the new collection system and it went very well, but January has seen the service brought to its knees with an average 70 per cent of homes missed.

“The council is playing catch-up and chasing the problem instead of fixing it. The staff in the recycling service have been doing a fantastic job but have found themselves working under greater pressure due to timing of the rollout and lack of dedicated project support.

“Swindon is a visible example that politicians are not all the same and voting does make a difference."

The deputy leader of the Conservative group Councillor Dale Heenan added: “It has been a different excuse every week including too much cardboard and wrapping paper at Christmas.

“The council had no contingency plan for when things went wrong and it shows.

“So many collections have been missed that if you lined up one bin per home then the bins would stretch 379 miles from the Magic Roundabout to the Eiffel Tower."

But the Labour cabinet member for highways and the environment, Councillor Chris Watts, said the issues with the collection system go back further than June last year when Labour took over the council.

He said many of the issues experienced now go back to some mistaken assumptions made in the planning phase in 2022: “It appears that a select few Conservative councillors want to focus on the effects but are unsurprisingly reticent to discuss the cause of the issues that happened under their watch.

“By not adequately resourcing the project stage in 2022, the result was incorrect critical data, flawed assumptions and a lack of adequate back-office support systems.

"This then fed inaccurate information into the route optimisation, impacted the vehicle ordering process, also in 2022, and left the service vulnerable in the final rollout stage where we, as a new administration, stepped up in 2023.

“The problems that we are left with to resolve are systemic and deep-rooted, but we will continue to work hard to rebuild the service.”

Cllr Watts had told the council’s scrutiny committee that not enough of the new recycling trucks had been ordered, and added more were on their way: “We have ordered additional recycling wagons to bring the service up to capacity and expected delivery is May or June, therefore we will continue with temporary support vehicles to patch the deficiencies.

“Espousing moody figures by double counting delayed pickups is reprehensible and demoralising to those working so hard to resolve the issues.

“The idea that delaying the roll-out would have solved the systemic issues is nonsense and would have cost the best part of £500,000, money that the council does not have while we seek to balance the books."