An update has been provided on what has quickly become one of the town's most enduring issues - missed waste collections. 

A new waste collection system was introduced in November last year but since Christmas entire streets have found their rubbish and recycling uncollected as weaknesses and flaws in the new system have been exposed. 

Now the councillor in charge of the town's waste collection, Chris Watts, has provided a frank account of the challenges the service has faced so far, and what is happening to resolve them. 

In the update posted publicly by the Swindon Labour group, Cllr Watts described the delays as "unacceptable". 

But, he adds, things should start improving from now. 

"The waste and recycling team have been working hard to bring the service under control.

"The delays are expected while we retrospectively clear backlogs and bolster the service with support vehicles, and there should be no more than 24 hours delay for recycling as of next week.

"Anything later than this will need to be investigated and we will need to check the status of the system."

Cllr Watts further explained that the issues were caused because the new system, which was in planning before Labour took control of the council, was "ill-conceived through the project planning stage in 2022 where many assumptions and calculations were incorrect to the point of being systemic".

He stated that appropriate resources were not assigned to this project management stage, data used was inaccurate when planning routes with several thousand properties missing and not enough recycling wagons were ordered.

Issues with the new recycling lorries themselves were also highlighted by Cllr Watts, who said that the "functionality, inflexibility and capacity of the recycling wagons were not understood".

These issues include the fact that the cardboard compartment is 'no bigger than a medium-sized transit van' and that the plastic/metal compartment needs to be compacted every ten households which takes 2 minutes at a time, adding lengthy delays to the process. 

"This is not a criticism of the wagons as they are what they are," he said, "but it would have been crucial that these metrics were understood and accounted for in the early planning stage. I do not believe they were properly taken into consideration."

All of this means that the council are now in the process of rethinking the whole thing. 

"As a new administration the task that we have is to reverse engineer the 2022 project management stage, cleanse the data, re-optimise the routes and re-launch," he said. 

"The original project management stage identified that 14 recycling wagons would suffice. Subsequently, this was considerably short of the mark, and we believe that 18/19 routes are required.

"We have ordered additional recycling wagons, and they will be delivered in May/June this year.

"We have support vehicles to help the service, but these are limited as to their use, i.e. no food pods and can only collect two recyclate streams per round.

"This does help the recycling vehicles but confuses residents and split-collection is not supported by an inflexible back-office system."

Several changes to the way data is used and vehicles are tracked are also planned. 

"None of this is rocket science, innovative or cutting edge, but does highlight the lack of resource, imagination and ambition in 2022 in the planning stage."

Finally, a Cabinet Member Advisory Group is being created to oversee the next stage of rebuilding the service.

"I will reiterate that the crews and supervisors have been working extremely hard to minimise disruption," Cllr Watts said. 

"We must ensure that we show our support for the teams at all times as they continue to work hard for Swindon."