* The waste collection service could return in early September, says a council chief.
Denbighshire County Council is looking towards a re-launch date of the first Saturday in September for its “pop-up” household waste collection service in the Pavilion car park.
The suggestion of a likely date for the re-start of the facility, which was suspended back in March as a result of fears for the safety of council workers from Covid-19, comes in an email from the authority’s chief executive Judith Greenhalgh to Clwyd South Senedd Member Ken Skates explaining the position.
Mr Skates has allowed llanblogger to see a copy of the email and to quote its contents.
Ever since the service was withdrawn there has been a strong local clamour for it to be swiftly restored rather than local people having to take their rubbish on a round-trip of more than 20 to the Ruthin recycling centre.
There was a breakthrough earlier this week when local county councillor Graham Timms told llanblogger he had been informed by council chiefs the service would be coming back, probably in mid-August.
In her email to Mr Skates, Judith Greenhalgh says: “I have also received a number of emails from a small group of residents in Llangollen who are not happy that we have not yet been able to resume the service.
“The group are very active on social media, have submitted several FOIs, and have written to various MPs and AMs on the matter.
“I should start by clarifying that we have explained the situation to them several times, either directly, or via the local ward Members, who have been kept informed at all times.
“The reason behind the service being suspended is simply Covid-19. As a consequence of lockdown, we had to ask several members of our waste team (including a number of HGV drivers) to refrain from work due to underlying health conditions which made them vulnerable to Covid-19.
“We therefore had to prioritise our most critical waste services and used our remaining staff to keep the most critical waste service running.
“By doing that, we were able to maintain our household residual, recycling and food waste services during the entire lockdown period.
“The other reason is this service requires our staff to come into close proximity with residents, and we were concerned that the service could not be delivered safely. At the very least, it would have placed our staff at an increased risk, which would (in turn) jeopardise our critical household waste collections.”
The email adds: “We have been very clear that something needed to change in order for us to start planning to re-open the pop-up service. Specifically, there were two things that needed to happen:
“a) Relaxation/removal of social distancing measures by Welsh Government; and/or
b) A change in our guidance about staff needing to refrain from attending their place of work due to underlying health conditions.
“We have recently had a change in the 2nd element, and we are now starting to work towards bringing vulnerable people back into the workplace, even if they have underlying health conditions (subject to additional risk assessments and occupational health approval).
“We therefore expect to have more staff capacity from mid-to late August. However, we are trying to grant summer holiday leave to those staff that have not had a break since the start of lockdown.
“Therefore we are working towards a re-launch date of the first Saturday in September for the Dee Valley pop-up service.
“I must stress that there is still work to do to ensure that we can re-start the service safely. Social distancing is still a requirement, and we will need to develop risk assessments, and engage with staff, unions and our partner (CAD) to ensure that everyone is satisfied that it safe to resume the service.
“A key remaining risk is the handling of waste taken directly from the public, and it is extremely important that we are able to keep our operational staff distant from the public to prevent Covid 19 impacting on our core frontline service.
“We have informed the local ward Members about this plan, and I’m sure that the message has already been communicated to the residents who have contacted you.
“We will be issuing some external communications about it once we are more certain about the plans and, more specifically, when we are more confident about the start date.”
Clwyd South MS Ken Skates, said: "I am pleased the council is working towards re-starting this service as soon as possible.
“Thank you to councillors Graham Timms and Mel Mile for keeping this on the council's agenda and for their hard work on behalf of local residents."