Residents in Gloucestershire burning rubbish on bonfires as bin strikes continue

Recycling centres in South Gloucestershire have been overwhelmed with piling waste. Credit: Sam Bromiley

Residents in South Gloucestershire are resorting to bonfires to get rid of piling waste because of weeks of cancelled bin collections due to strikes by workers.

Industrial action by Suez employees in Somerset ended last week when employees accepted a nine per cent pay rise – but the same offer to colleagues in South Gloucestershire has been rejected.

Opposition Conservative Cllr Sanjay Shambhu told a council meeting that some householders have “started incinerating waste at home” and were recommending it to others as a “suitable way of disposing of rubbish”.

Council leader Cllr Claire Young (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said the authority was “continuing to apply pressure on Suez to get back to the table” for talks after the latest offer from the company of a nine per cent pay rise was rejected by Unite union.

Cllr Shambhu told the meeting: “As a result of excess waste being created during the current Suez strikes, some residents have started incinerating waste at home and promoting it on social media as a suitable way of disposing of rubbish.

“We know some residents have taken to burning waste in their garden or other places during the strike period in order to dispose of the rubbish.

“What measures are you planning to take to minimise any adverse impacts on our climate due to the burning of waste?”

Cabinet member for communities and local place Cllr Leigh Ingham (Labour, Kingswood) replied at the meeting on Wednesday, July 19: “Throughout the period of strike action, we have maintained a fortnightly black bin collection and continued to collect waste and recycling from communal bin stores for flats.

“We have also collected clinical and medical waste.

Rubbish piled up outside bins in South Gloucestershire. Credit: Cllr Sam Bromiley

“Our larger Sort It centres at Yate, Mangotsfield and Thornbury have remained open seven days a week with additional facilities to collect kerbside recycling.

“We have also implemented six staffed recycling sites – available Monday to Friday from 8am to 2pm – as well as two recycling banks available 24/7.

“We continue to seek opportunities to improve service provision and ask residents to engage with the services that are available wherever possible.

“We are encouraged by reports of neighbours and friends helping each other to use the additional sites to deposit their recycling.”

Cllr Ingham apologised to residents for the inconvenience.

She said: “We realise and we emphasise that it is an incredibly challenging time for all of us and we thank residents for the hard work they’re doing in using the additional sites we’ve been able to put on to try to alleviate some of the challenges that they’re facing.

Cllr Rachael Hunt (Conservative, Emersons Green) said: “We welcome the additional b

ins that have been set up to allow people to deposit their recycling during the period of strike action currently being undertaken by Suez staff.

“Residents, however, have been told that the extra bins are not available before 8am nor after 2pm, and the household waste and recycling centres close at 4.30pm.

Cllr Ingham replied: “Officers are working with the Suez management team to provide the best possible service to our residents.

“Unfortunately, this is limited by the numbers of staff presenting to work during the period of strike action.

“We are exploring opportunities to improve service provision and will make changes as and when we can.”