The NHS COVID app ‘pingdemic’ as it has been dubbed, has been creating headlines this week due to the huge number of people who have been correctly self-isolating as the third wave of the virus sweeps the country.

Local authorities, large retail businesses and manufacturing hubs have all been affected as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the UK. Our own case rates have been below the national average recently but are still creeping towards the 500 cases per 100,000 of the local population.

Here in Swindon we had to take the difficult decision to change our recycling box collection service after a lack of staff made it impossible to maintain our full range of waste and recycling services. The decision was taken so we could continue to provide all our other waste collection services and these will continue for local residents.

Making any changes to waste collections will always upset people because we all depend on them. For some residents, having their rubbish taken away every fortnight may be the only interaction they have with their local authority and seen as the only reason they pay their council tax.

Readers will know the council provides a whole host of other services, especially to children and adults who depend on us and really need our help.

I don’t know if you have ever seen our refuse crews at work, but they work so hard for their local communities and, in a week where temperatures have hit 30 degrees, can you imagine a more difficult job at the current time?

Since the start of the pandemic, they have continued to keep the show on the road, maintaining the full range of waste and recycling services, apart from one two-week spell last summer where we were unable to provide our green waste service.

During the lockdown, they also picked up 25 per cent more waste than they normally would and, even when we struggled for staff in recent weeks, they continued to go the extra mile.

They are a credit to the council and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all they do and to tell them to keep up the good work.

We will be doing everything we can to return our recycling collections to their usual frequency and I would encourage residents just to bear with us as we navigate this difficult period. Although the recycling box collections will not be up to full speed, our staff will still be carrying out 30,000 collections a day.

We are also planning to introduce extended opening hours at the household waste recycling centre on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to help residents during this period.

On a different topic, I was pleased to hear yesterday that Clem Morfuni has been confirmed as the new owner of Swindon Town. I know the last few months have been very unsettling for supporters, but I am delighted the uncertainty over the ownership of the club is now at an end.

The council has always been very supportive of the football club as we recognise it is a hugely important part of the local community. I look forward to working with Mr Morfuni in the future as we look ahead to brighter times for the club.