A Hampshire council has told its residents the driver shortage has become so bad it was trying to extricate itself from its current waste contract in order to resolve a kerbside collection crisis.
In the meantime, East Hants District Council (EHDC) said it wasn’t collecting glass for a month in order to prioritise general waste and recycling collections.
EHDC said it had asked officers to investigate an “expedited exit from the current contractual arrangement”, which currently involves neighbouring authority Havant Borough Council (HBC) being responsible for EHDC’s waste collection services.
“We are in discussion with HBC and [public service provider] Norse to finalise governance and commercial arrangements to enable this to happen quickly,” it said.
“This move will ensure that EHDC returns to a direct relationship with the supplier with control over our own contract.
“This process, combined with the short term measures mentioned earlier, will mitigate the current issues and allow the service to be future proofed.”
Explaining why collections were having to be changed, EHDC said: “Put simply, Norse South East (NSE), which provides the service, doesn’t have enough crews to collect waste, recycling, garden waste and kerbside glass currently.
“We are therefore making the best use of the crews we do have by prioritising what they collect.”
EHDC added that driver pay had been increased by around 22% in order to retain staff and a cash incentive was now being offered to new starters: “The improvements in pay and incentives will ensure that we are competitive in a fast-moving labour market and help to prevent us losing even more drivers,” it added.
The move came as analysis by Driver Require of official government labour force figures suggested that the recruitment crisis was coming to an end because the total number of HGV drivers in the UK now exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Norse Group did not respond.