A SIX-WEEK halt to garden waste collections in Somerset is going to place intolerable burdens on the frail and elderly, one of the county’s MPs has warned.
Ian Liddell-Grainger says the suspension will also put additional pressure on waste recycling centres which, he says, must now be kept open seven days a week to compensate.
Somerset Waste Partnership says it has been forced to take the step so staff can be redeployed to support rubbish and recycling collections, badly affected by the nationwide driver shortage and Covid-related absences.
But Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, says he will be writing to the Government seeking assurances that the suspension will not be used a back-door route to permanent, across-the-board reductions in collections.
And he says he will be demanding a firm date from the partnership as to when the service will resume.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said the abruptly-announced halt in collections would come as a blow to hundreds of families.
“I know very well to what an extent elderly and frail people who are unable to access or use a recycling centre rely on their garden waste collections,” he said.
“Being able to have garden waste taken away is a great bonus: losing that facility is going to cause intolerable difficulties for many of them.
“I fully accept that many of the partnership’s staff may have been pinged as possible Covid contacts but simply to axe one of its services completely smacks somewhat of a panic reaction.
“Householders in Somerset are already receiving what many of them regard as the bare minimum of waste and recycling collections. I can promise the partnership a massive outcry if this step turns out to be a prelude to further reductions in their frequency.”