Garbage cans across the country are overflowing with Christmas rubbish as Covid-related staff shortages continue to hit councils across England, local politicians have warned.
A number of city councils in London, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Buckinghamshire said garbage collection services have been scaling back as workers continue to contract the virus, PA reports.
Chelmsford City Council confirmed 23 staff were absent and canceled food waste collection for three days.
North Somerset Council said it was unable to collect 1,000 recycling bins on New Year’s Eve as crews remain “overwhelmed by staff illness.”
Stephanos Ioannou, a Conservative Alderman in Enfield, said the number of complaints about missed garbage collection was about twice the average for that time of year.
“I drove around my station and saw trash cans overflowing and Christmas trees standing outside,” he told the PA news agency.
“Over the Christmas period I usually receive an average of 30 e-mails a week about waste disposal.
“I checked my inbox yesterday … and it was about 50 or 60.”
Matt Brooks, 40, of Enfield said, “Christmas recycling has still not been collected.
“When I contact the council to report it, I feel disinterested and just said to report it again when it happens.”
Gloucester has been plagued by “terrible problems” as trash cans work in close-knit teams and the virus quickly spreads across one another, multiplying the number of employees sick at the same time, said Liberal Democratic councilor Declan Wilson.
Mr Wilson said the recycling collections stopped altogether over Christmas due to a combination of Covid-related absences and driver shortages.
“The reason for this is a lack of drivers and also Covid.
“It’s also Brexit and Covid. We discussed this in the Council meetings.
“They tell us that the drivers work in cells, so two or three of them work together, so one of them gets Covid and that means two or three of them are free.
“It wasn’t that great.”
Comment was requested from Gloucester City Councils and Enfield City Councils.
Several London boroughs have announced that there may be delays in services in the future, and Haringey Council warned that “uniquely challenging times” had an impact on their workforce.
Newham Council has temporarily suspended the collection of bulky waste due to “above-average staff absenteeism”.
The collection of green food and garden recycling bins has been canceled by Manchester City Council “until further notice” due to the number of employees in isolation.
The residents are asked to throw food waste in “gray residual waste bins” and to store garden waste until normal collection is resumed.
Meanwhile, Birmingham City Council apologized for the missed pickups during the holidays, saying crews were affected by Covid in the week leading up to December 30th.
It comes after ministers asked public sector leaders to draw up “contingency plans” for worst-case scenarios where up to a quarter of the staff would be missing.
When asked on Times Radio if such shortages were likely, Health Secretary Edward Argar said, “I think we are modeling a number of scenarios down to what we think are very unlikely, but you are doing it anyway because good government does in preparation does for all eventualities. “
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils across England, said crews were badly affected by the spread of the Omicron variant and called for workers to be prioritized for Covid tests.
An LGA spokesman said: “As the cases of Covid-19 increase in light of the Omicron variant, the councils fear that these existing staffing problems could worsen.”
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