Welwyn Hatfield snow reaction scrutinised

RUBBISH collections and other council services ground to a halt when the worst snow for 30 years arrived in the borough.

This week, the Welwyn Hatfield Council officers in charge of presiding over the chaos were held to account by councillors demanding answers.

Six scrutiny meetings are set to take place during the next six months.

At the first Durk Reyner, head of environmental client services, and Andy Cremer, head of emergency planning and risk management, were interrogated.

Labour councillor Kieran Thorpe posed the questions on behalf of colleagues on the sub-committee.

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He first asked why the council’s contractor Serco did not collect refuse or recycling on major routes once Hertfordshire County Council had gritted them.

Mr Reyner said: “Where they could work they did, but on four days the roads were so bad they didn’t collect.

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“Serco do hold staff in the yard for a period in case the situation changes.

“Serco workers drive the routes in a four wheel drive, if they struggle then a refuse truck will too.

“It’s a driver’s decision to go out if they feel safe.”

Mr Cremer added: “The day-to-day responsibility for safety is Serco’s.

“Durk can’t take that responsibility away from them, it has to be their call.”

Cllr Thorpe asked if a similar situation occurred again could residents bring refuse out to the main roads or central collection points.

Main roads

Mr Reyner said this was a possibility, but added it would be difficult to communicate this to the public and residents on the main roads might not like everybody’s rubbish piled up outside their homes.

Cllr Thorpe said some areas were missed on numerous occasions where others were only missed once and asked if routes could be changed to stop the large gaps in some places?

Mr Reyner agreed this could be done, but again asked how would this be communicated to the public.

Tory councillor Carl Storer said the council should rely less on the internet to get its messages out.

Mr Reyner said people could phone the council too.

Lib Dem councillor Louise Lotz suggested a phone tree, with each resident ringing the next to get the message out.

Mr Reyner went on to say brown bin collections were second in the priority list behind refuse sacks, as wheelie bins acted like outside fridges for the food waste inside.

He added that reports of maggots and smells could not be true.

It is not yet clear who else will be called before the committees, but it looks certain Serco bosses and those in charge of town hall communications with the public will be interviewed.

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