Chesterfield council apologises to pensioner after double payment demand for garden waste collections

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Chesterfield Borough Council has apologised to a Brampton resident for flaws in the rollout of its new garden waste subscription system which meant he was asked to pay twice for the same service.

Retiree Ken Franklin, of Storrs Road, is a keen gardener and has been relying on free fortnightly collections ever since they were introduced – so he readily accepted the introduction of a subscription model earlier this year.

He said: “It didn’t come as a great surprise. As we all know, councils are strapped for cash at the moment.

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“Our bin gets full almost every week, and I’ve always been very pleased with the service and never had any problems.”

Some Chesterfield residents are seeing a bumpy rollout for the borough council's new garden waste collection model.Some Chesterfield residents are seeing a bumpy rollout for the borough council's new garden waste collection model.
Some Chesterfield residents are seeing a bumpy rollout for the borough council's new garden waste collection model.

Ken signed up in early March, just after the registration system went live, and received an instant confirmation.

Subscribers are meant to be issued with a sticker for their bin so that waste collection teams know which residents have paid but, as several weeks went by, Ken’s never arrived.

He said: “In mid-April I made enquiries with the council, but I was only able to leave a message. Nobody ever answered the phone, and no one called me back.”

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On May 1, Ken found a notice attached to his bin saying it would not be emptied in future unless he paid for it.

He said: “Again the phone rang and rang and nobody answered. There was a note on the website about requesting stickers, but it linked to a broken page. It was just extraordinarily frustrating.”

It was only when Ken wrote to councillors and senior officers earlier this week, copying in the Derbyshire Times, that he suddenly received a response.

He said: “The following day I had a very considered apology from Shirley Hallam, the head of waste services, explaining the difficulties with the new scheme, how one or two people had slipped through the net, and that a sticker was being posted to me immediately.

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“I do understand that can happen, but it seems like they haven’t got some very basic things in place. I found it impossible to speak to anybody about it.”

As of Friday morning, Ken’s sticker had still not arrived but his garden waste was collected this week as usual.

A council spokesperson said: “Following the roll out of the small charge for the collection of garden waste, there was a slight delay in getting bin stickers out to some residents who were keen to use this service and subscribed early.

“Unfortunately, Mr Franklin was one of these residents and we have apologised to Mr Franklin for the delay in getting his sticker to him as we fully appreciate the upset that this can cause. We can confirm that Mr Franklin’s sticker has been posted out to him and he should receive it in the coming days.”

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“This is a new way of delivering the service for the council and we are continuously reviewing how things are progressing and we will look to make any necessary changes to the sign up process to make sure it is a smooth and easy process for our residents.

“Due to the demand for this service, it has taken longer than we would like to catch up with some customer enquiries, but we will get back to anyone who has a query or concern as soon as we can. If you have signed up to the scheme but haven’t yet received a sticker, please rest assured that our crews have a list of all registered properties, and your bin will still be collected as usual.

“We are regularly updating our web pages to provide information and guidance on the new approach.”

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