Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary Meeting, Council - Friday, 24 September 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: First floor, 135 Eastern Avenue, Milton Park, Milton, OX14 4SB

Contact: Steven Corrigan, Democratic Services Manager 07717 274704 Email:  Democratic Services Manager

Link: This meeting will be broadcast live - you can watch it here

No. Item


Declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests in respect of item on the agenda for this meeting.  




The Chair advised that it is likely that a number of councillors may subscribe to the garden waste service being considered this evening.  The Monitoring Officer has advised that councillors who do subscribe to the garden waste service do not need to declare an interest in the item of business on the basis that this is not a disclosable pecuniary interest. 



Urgent business and chairman's announcements

To receive notification of any matters which the chair determines should be considered as urgent business and the special circumstances which have made the matters urgent, and to receive any announcements from the chair. 




Public participation

Members of the public who wish to address Council on the agenda item for this meeting must register to do so in writing or by email to no later than 5.00pm on Thursday 23 September 2021. 



The Chair provided details of those members of the public had registered to address Council.  Council agreed to extend the public speaking time to allow each member of the public who had registered to speak for three minutes to make their address.


Liz Bachelor addressed Council. She asked what plans the council had to address communication going forward.


Freddie van Mierlo, County Councillor for Chalgrove Division, addressed Council. He referenced the growing supply chain crisis and shortage of HGV drivers currently facing various sectors of the economy. In light of this, he expressed the view that it was unsurprising Biffa have found it difficult to collect Garden Waste and welcomed the prioritisation of general, food waste and recycling. He welcomed the resumption of the Garden Waste service.


Andy Smith addressed Council. Whilst disappointed that his Green Waste had not been collected, he expressed the view the issue was a consequence of a nationwide HGV driver shortage which was outside the control of the council.


Len Pannett addressed Council. He expressed the view that the problem had been caused by a national shortage of HGV drivers exacerbated by a retiring workforce, drivers leaving the sector due to tax changes, the impact of the pandemic in restricting the training and testing of new drivers and drivers returning home as a consequence of Brexit.


Andrew Jones addressed Council. He asked whether the suspension of the Garden Waste service was in accordance with the contract.




Garden Waste Service pdf icon PDF 266 KB

Council is invited to discuss and debate the current temporary suspension of the Garden Waste Service.





Council considered the report of the Head of Housing and Environment on the temporary suspension of the garden waste service and the steps taken to restart the service in discussion with Biffa, the council’s waste service contractor. The report set out the circumstances leading to the suspension, the national situation, communication with residents and the current situation.


Councillor David Rouane, Cabinet member for housing and the environment, addressed Council. He advised that the collection of garden waste service is provided by Biffa under the terms of a contract agreed in 2009 and extended in 2014 to cover the period 2017-2024.


The service is used by around 44 per cent of residents and, like the rest of the Biffa contract, has generally worked well. Any problems are worked out through the normal processes of contract management. The contract includes a provision for Biffa to activate a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The BCP is a document agreed with the contractor to enable the parties to identify the actions needed to be taken to maintain critical services following disruptive incidents. It is designed to protect the critical kerbside collections received by all households (food waste, recycling, and residual (rubbish) waste) received by all households in the district and is rarely used.


Throughout the pandemic officers had worked closely with local and regional managers to ensure that the kerbside waste service was delivered. There were several times during this period when driver numbers were less than those needed, Biffa took the necessary actions including working longer hours and weekends to ensure services were delivered. However, on Monday 2 August, Biffa informed the council that the number of suitably qualified drivers they had available to work on that day was such that it was necessary to activate the BCP. On that day they were 20 per cent down and, in order to protect the collection of the critical services, officers, in consultation with relevant Cabinet members, had no alternative but to agree to the temporary suspension of the garden waste service for a period of 4 to 6 weeks. He explained that the cause of the suspension was the national shortage of HGV drivers which impacted Biffa’s ability to recruit and retain drivers. 


In respect of the communication, he explained that whilst the garden waste service was provided by Biffa, the invoicing for the service was outsourced as part of the Five Councils Partnership Contract but did not include a system for communication with customers outside of invoicing.  This service was recently brought back inhouse but a process for communicating with customers was not in place prior to the suspension of the garden waste service.Due to the sudden suspension of the service, it was not possible to communicate with customers in advance. With the council only holding 37% of garden waste customers email addresses the decision was taken to communicate the suspension via social media and local media.   Writing to customers was estimated to cost around £30,000 and many of those letters would have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.