Problems with the new domestic waste collection system in Swindon cost the council nearly £2m in extra spending.

The issues after the new rules were implemented in November saw hundreds of thousands of bins and recycling collections missed.

And the cost over-run means the savings Swindon Borough Council made in its 2023-24 budget was a modest £159,000.

The council’s cabinet member for finance, councillor Kevin Small, gave a final report on how the last year’s budget turned out. While he was pleased with the turnaround from a projected  £15m overspend to the £159,000 underspend, it was clear the issues with the waste collection system had not helped.

His report said: “Delays in the rollout of the new waste collections service, which commenced later than anticipated in November, resulted in additional disposal costs and approximately 1,000 tonnes of extra residual waste.

"Lower than expected food waste presentation following the new scheme's implementation (about 750 tonnes less than expected) contributed to the budgetary strain.

“The additional household residual waste tonnages disposed contributed to a £1.07m overspend on the budget.”

And drafting in extra staff and hiring more vans, especially for the new recycling collection system added nearly £1m more.

Cllr Small added: “The need for additional temporary staffing during the rollout and summer staffing shortages, alongside vehicle and equipment hire, compounded the budgetary pressures by £977,000.

“Delays in commissioning a new baling machine hindered the generation of income from separated recycling and led to a £396,000 overspend for the disposal of recyclates and waste from the Household Waste Recycling Centre.

“Despite these challenges, the service partially mitigated the budgetary strain through successfully generating additional income from green waste subscriptions of £115,000, as well as holding vacancies open where possible.”

Although council meetings during the pre0election period are meant to be less political than normal, Cllr Small said: “The issues stem from the poor preparations made by the previous administration, especially not procuring sufficient vehicles. I think that’s as much as I should say in this meeting.”

 Although he commended the work of officers and cabinet members in managing to get spending down to come in on budget, Cllr Small warned his colleagues that more would be needed to make sure the council doesn’t over-spend this year’s budget: “It doesn’t stop here, and we can’t take our foot off the gas.

“The new savings programme will turn out to be as challenging as last year, and it will need a lot of hard work to keep within a balanced budget.”