Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary Meeting, Council - Tuesday, 21 September 2021 7.00 pm

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

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

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

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To record apologies for absence.


An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Shelley.


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 chair'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 Monday 20 September 2021. 



The Chair advised that eight 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.


Sally Povolotsky, County Councillor for Hendreds & Harwell Division, addressed Council. She expressed the view that the suspension of the garden waste service illustrated an issue in respect of the resilience and strategic planning of outsourced council contractors exasperated by a lack of HGV divers, “track and trace pings” and rising Covid cases. In her view the scale of the upset amongst residents who subscribe to the service was the lack of clear communication.  She welcomed the reinstatement of the service.


Les Buck congratulated both the council and Biffa for delivering the waste disposal service during the Covid pandemic. He expressed concern in respect of the lack of effective communication from the council regarding the suspension of the garden waste service and the time taken to arrive at the measures set out in the report. He was grateful that a four weekly cycle would commence soon. 


John Lloyd regretted the lack of foresight and planning and the lack of notice provided to subscribers of the suspension of the service. Whilst welcoming the measures set out in the report these needed to be followed through with a swift return to the fortnightly service.


Jim Halliday thanked the council and Biffa for the delivery of the service during the pandemic. He referenced the shortage of HGV drivers and the particularly demanding nature of those delivering the waste service. He thanked the council for providing the discretionary garden waste service and looked forward to the resumption of the service in due course.


Paul Mayhew-Archer referred to the issues set out in the report, Brexit and the pandemic, for the shortage of HGV drivers, the issues of outsourcing contracts and the council’s lack of a Customer Relationship Management system.


Chris Carrigan thanked officers for the report before Council. He acknowledged the issues set out in the report. However, he expressed concern regarding the poor communication with residents and the misinformation that arose because of this. The council should have an operating Customer Relationship Management system.


James Greenman thanked officers for the report which provided a summary of the situation to date and clarified what actions were being taken to address the issue. He questioned the lack of a direct communication process with subscribers of the garden waste service.


Lucy Edwards expressed the view that the shortage of HGV drivers had been well documented and as such Biffa should have had a plan in place to respond to the issue. She asked what scrutiny had taken place in respect of Biffa’s performance. There had been poor communication via social media and the council’s website which are not accessible to all residents. She asked what plans the council had to address communication going forward.


Councillor Smith, Leader of the council, thanked the public speakers for taking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


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 Catherine Webber, Cabinet member for climate emergency and environment, addressed Council. She advised that the Garden Waste service was used by around 44 per cent of residents who, in accordance with the terms and conditions were entitled to a minimum of 20 collections over the 12-month period at a cost of £51.50 per bin per annum.


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 Business Continuity Plan (BCP). On that day they were 20 per cent down, 9 short, on the number of drivers needed. The BCP, agreed with the contractor, enables parties to identify the actions required to maintain critical services following disruptive incidents and is designed to protect the critical kerbside collections (food waste, recycling, and residual (rubbish) waste) received by all households in the district.


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 2 August, in order to protect the collection of the critical services, officers had no alternative but to agree to the temporary suspension of the garden waste service for a period of 4 to 6 weeks.


She explained that the cause of the suspension was caused by the national shortage of HGV drivers which impacted Biffa’s ability to recruit and retain drivers.  Due to the sudden suspension of the service, it was not possible to communicate with customers in advance. With the council only holding 30% of garden waste customers email addresses the decision was taken to communicate the suspension via social media and local media. She referred to the communication activity set out in appendix 1 to the report and concluded by referring to the interim arrangements and the extension of subscriptions advised by Councillor Smith (see minute 31). 


Councillor Catherine Webber moved, and Councillor Smith seconded the recommendation to note the report and the current position with the garden waste service as set out in the report.


Councillors welcomed the interim arrangements to resume the Garden Waste collections on 27 September and the decision to extend subscriptions by three months.


A number of councillors supported the view that the suspension of the service was as a result of a shortage of HGV drivers caused by a number of factors including drivers returning home as a consequence of Brexit and the impact of the pandemic  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.