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Torfaen’s 19 new recycling lorries will be on the road before Christmas: Community councillors quiz Torfaen’s waste and recycling bosses

The senior councillor and officer in charge of waste and recycling collection in Torfaen came to Cwmbran Community Council’s latest meeting to answer questions.

Councillor Mandy Owen, executive member for environment, and Simon Anthony, head of recycling and environment, were invited to the council’s environment, sustainability and planning committee.

Cllr Owen said that most of the questions were related to issues in Llantarnam but stressed to councillors that “it’s not just Llantarnam affected, it’s throughout the borough.”

She was asked about missed and late collections on specific dates in August and October. Cllr Owen said the reasons were “ageing fleet, breakdowns and staff sickness.” On Friday 14 October the service was run with the “bare minimum” of staff and they “worked on Saturday to bring collections up to date. Even managers have been going out to try and ease the disruptions.”

A councillor asked her what criteria is used to determine which areas are collected first. She said they didn’t use any criteria but crews planned routes and times to avoid issues like “school drop-off periods”.

Cllr Mike Villars, Llantarnam Ward, asked why the north and south of Llantarnam were usually ok but the Court Farm area was missed regularly? Mr Anthony said it was “unfortunate and just a quirk”. He added that on some rounds you do get “repeated breakdowns” but he would  “look to make sure it’s not the same area suffering”.

‘I can’t wait for the new vehicles to come in’

Cllr Bill Walker said that over a 17-week period in Llantarnam, there had been missed or delayed collections on 13 of them. He said: “The management of this service has been appalling. It’s Llantarnam that gets it in the neck”. He asked if there were contingency plans in place during the week so problems can be spotted early on and Llantarnam not miss its collection.

Cllr Owen replied: “I really understand your frustration. It’s not just Llantarnam. I’ve had it in my ward, every ward is having issues. I can’t wait for the new vehicles to come in.”

Torfaen Council has bought 19 new recycling vehicles to replace its current fleet and help the council reach the 2024 recycling target of 70 percent.

She added: “W can’t wait for these new vehicles. I’m frustrated. We are doing our best with what we’ve got. We really can’t wait for the new ones to come in.”

Mr Anthony said the first of 19 new lorries were due to arrive in the week commencing 21 November 22 and all of them would on Torfaen’s roads before Christmas.

He added: “It’s my job to address it.” The new vehicles will have technology that means officers can monitor when and where trucks have completed their rounds.

“I can’t say everything will be singing and dancing smoothly in the next two weeks,” he added. 

Cllr Villars asked if Cllr Owen and Mr Anthony could return to the council in January or February to share details on how services have changed with the new lorries.

Councillor Kebba Manneh, St Dials Ward, said it was important to have better engagement with Cllr Owen and Mr Anthony and they should “create a partnership going forward. Let’s do that.”

Cllr Fay Jones, St Dials Ward, said she was having problems getting a litter bin installed on an estate in her ward as the roads were “unadopted”. Cllr Owen said: “Send me details of the area. I will ask the team, as long as we have the resources to empty them we can. Let me just check we can.”

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Torfaen’s 19 new recycling lorries will be on the road before Christmas: Community councillors quiz Torfaen’s waste and recycling bosses

a green waste bin