Torbay council did not adequately consider the merits of a staged roll-out option for the implementation of its TOR2 recycling scheme, according to the report by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Following the problematic “big-bang” style launch of the joint venture between May Gurney and the council, which resulted in 6,000 calls from residents to council switchboards, the board’s report to the council Mayor concluded: “The merits of a staged roll-out option appear not to have been considered adequately or the implementation was an example of an unrealistically tight timetable imposed upon a project.
“In terms of customer service the rationale put forward by TOR2 to justify the decision to pursue a big-bang deployment is unconvincing. Either customer service and satisfaction were lowly criteria or the risk assessment and contingency planning were defective or perhaps implementation was subject to time crunch – a decision made to fit a timescale.”
The new scheme saw residents issued with new recycled bins and boxes. One box was for paper, plastic bottles, food tins, drinks cans, aerosols, mixed textiles and shoes while the second box was for foil, mixed glass and cardboard. A separate smaller bin was provided to take food waste.
Residents reportedly experienced delays in rubbish collections, maggots in food waste bins and traffic delays caused by the new lorries.
TOR2’s response to the report stated: “In any change process effective communication and consultation is vital and, in retrospect, there will always be elements that could have been done differently, both in the period leading up to the change and throughout the process.
“Considerable attention to detail was given during the planning stages as to the most effective way of introducing the service change which was the largest change from commingled collection in the UK.”
The mayor now has two months to prepare his response to the report.
Problems with the service have since been resolved and Torbay Council and TOR2 have been shortlisted for Local Authority Team of the Year and Best Partnership Project for the National Recycling Awards 2011.