Refuse truck drivers’ pay is under review in Brighton and Hove because they earn significantly less than HGV drivers in neighbouring East Sussex.
A shortage of drivers due to holidays and short-notice sickness is in part to blame for missed refuse and recycling collections across the area, the council said.
And replacing drivers has proved difficult, with Brighton and Hove City Council offering a salary of £20,138 compared with the £25,500 offered in East Sussex.
Related stories: Council criticised over late rubbish collections
A report to councillors said that the ‘non-competitiveness’ of LGV drivers’ salaries needs to be addressed.
According to the report, wages may be contributing to recruitment issues and new approaches are suggested.
Councillors will also hear about issues facing the council as it tries to modernise its City Environmental Management division.
One of the issues is described in the report as ‘silo working’ where a team looks inwards and resists working with other people or teams in an organisation.
The report, to the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “In relation to service delivery, a culture of continuous improvement has not been encouraged in City Environment for a number of years.
“For example, there has been a lack of collaborative working for the good of the customer.”
In an effort to improve the way the department works, staff went on an away day with a number of senior officials.
Since then frontline staff are attending fortnightly team meetings, with the report also recommending six-monthly away days.
Complaints about missed collections have filled councillors’ inboxes for months, resulting in a motion and petition going before a council committee next week.
The report describes the Cityclean contact centre as overwhelmed and lacking the technology to give updates to the public on the issues reported.
It describes the department as reactive while ‘demand and customer expectations are not met’.
Work is taking place to improve the contact form and to direct inquiries to the relevant teams, while the council looks for a digital tool to provide real-time information.
The report also recommends creating a dedicated commercial waste team, overseeing garden waste, trade and event collections.
Setting up the team is expected to cost £143,000 but it should become self-funding.
The council currently deals with two per cent of trade waste in the city, but has the potential to collect 40 per cent.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the council has a duty to collect commercial waste if asked and has the power to charge a ‘reasonable’ fee for the service.
It can also charge a reasonable fee for collecting garden waste.
The report recommends allowing the garden waste collection service to operate with a surplus which would be invested back into waste and recycling services.
The environment, transport and sustainability committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall on Tuesday (9 October) at 4pm. The meeting is open to the public.
Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.