CHANGES to bin collections have been brought in by the borough council because of staff shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Garden waste collections will be suspended until April 8 to allow crews to assist with priority collections.

But black wheelie bin, blue bag, food waste and clinical waste services have been classed as a priority by the council due to the perishable nature of the waste.

A council spokesman said: “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many council services and the waste collection team has faced staff shortages due to a combination of the ongoing self-isolation measures and illness.

“The nature of the work means that staff have to be trained and have a good level of fitness, making staff redeployment from other areas of the council more difficult.

"As a result, crews will be reduced to just a driver and a loader and, if additional manpower is needed, other crew members will be taken via a second vehicle to help complete the round.

“In order to keep the priority collections running, the council may need to suspend other services to divert staff to the priority collections.”

Subscribers to the paid-for garden waste service are being informed by email or letter, with the council looking at either extending the current subscription year or reducing the cost of next year’s subscription.

Residents have been asked to avoid garden work that will produce large amounts of waste, reduce food waste and avoid creating bonfires.

Coun Maureen Penny, the council’s cabinet member for transport and the environment, said: “The crews are working as quickly and efficiently as possible to deliver your waste and recycling collections.

“We are constantly reviewing the service in these uncertain times to ensure we are prioritising perishable waste collections.

"However like many other front-line services we are contending with ongoing self-isolation measures and staff sickness.

“We thank our residents for their patience during this time and encourage our residents to keep up to date with any changes to our services on the council’s website.”

Those suspecting of being infected should double bag waste tissues, clothes or wipes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect staff.

The council will be continuing fly-tipping investigations over the current period.

“Fly-tipping is illegal, especially during this time when collections may be limited.

“Any residents who witness fly-tipping are asked to take photos and report it to the council via the website,” the council spokesman.

He added: “Changes to services may happen at short notice over the coming weeks so we are urging all residents to keep up to date with services through the council’s dedicated service status update page and through our Facebook page.”