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Decision details

Waste Complaints April - October 2018

Decision Maker: Civic Affairs

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


To discuss amount of complaints made relating to the waste service.


The Committee received a report from the Head of Shared Waste and Business Development Manager.


The Officer’s report provided an analysis of complaints made relating to the council regarding waste services during the period of April – December 2018.


The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  The complaints logging system needed to be clear what was a complaint and what was a comment. Partly because some feedback could be classified as a comment or a complaint. Also to avoid the council being criticised for situations outside of its control.

  ii.  Ward Councillors picked up low level grumblings that were not reported to the Waste Service such as empty bins being left on pavements.


The Head of Shared Waste and Business Development Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

  i.  The Council logged customer feedback as a complaint or comment in accordance with residents’ wishes. The system asked residents to clarify if they were making a compliment, comment or complaint. Usually more complaints were logged than compliments (these were usually given verbally).

  ii.  Various systems were consolidated in 2018 to log responses through different communication methods (email, phone etc) in one place. This led to a spike in complaints recorded (but no change in the actual number received (9181 of the Officer’s report)) as customer contacts were now formally being logged in one system, when they were not always done so before.

  iii.  Issues could be tracked and escalated if customers were not satisfied with responses.

  iv.  The system provided clear information on issues and responses. The same information could be shared with residents and bin crews to give them real time updates.

  v.  The system was being streamlined so residents could report issues at their convenience.

  vi.  Issues beyond the council’s control could lead to resident’s complaints such as blocked roads or bad weather preventing bin collections.

 vii.  Blocked roads were an issue for both city and South Cambridgeshire areas.

viii.  The triage team monitored residents’ feedback and filtered the feedback to ensure it had appropriate headings. Occasionally ‘complaints’ may be changed to ‘service requests’ etc.

  ix.  Officers asked that all issues (complaints, comments and compliments) were reported to the Waste Service so trends could be monitored and reported. The service responded to trends by training lorry crews to work better with residents. For example 130 staff had just been trained about bin placement.

  x.  The complaints report covered waste collection issues from residents and businesses. The system did not currently break figures down to ward level, as the service was built on collection rounds and some of these crossed over wards. It would be possible to provide data based on collection days. . It might be possible to manually produce ward level issue reports for councillors upon request, but this would be time consuming. Officers would explore whether the ICT system might be able to break figures down to ward level in future.

  xi.  Streets and Open Spaces, Waste and Housing Services had the highest number of complaints across the City Council. These could be reported back to Councillor O’Connell in more detail after committee if she wished.

 xii.  The underground waste collection system used in the Eddington (North West Cambridge) Development has been well received. Officers were reviewing if similar underground collection systems could be used on other new developments in future. This was more straight forward than retrofitting existing developments.


The Executive Councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre addressed the Committee:

  i.  The number of recorded complaints had increased. This was due to the new reporting system.

  ii.  Referred to report p181. The service had increased the number of successful collections to over 99.8%.

  iii.  The position of bins was regularly commented on. Crews had to take bins long distances from homes to where bins could be emptied. The number of complaints was low in comparison to the number of collections made.

  iv.  The reporting system did not register the number of verbal compliments given to crews on their rounds. There were more happy residents than the report figures suggested.


Unanimously resolvedto note the contents of the Officer’s report.

Report author: Tony Stead

Publication date: 08/02/2019

Date of decision: 30/01/2019

Decided at meeting: 30/01/2019 - Civic Affairs

Accompanying Documents: