A shake-up in the schedule of bin collections in Huntingdonshire led to a surge in complaints to the council, a report has revealed.

Huntingdonshire District Council reconfigured its waste and recycling rounds early in 2017, which led to an increase in complaints to the authority's operations department of more than 300 per cent year-on-year.

In 2016/17, the department received 149 'stage one' complaints from members of the public but that figure shot up to 480 in 2017/18 which, the council has said, was because of missed bin collections.

In a report to the district council's overview and scrutiny panel on Thursday, Adrian Dobbyne, the corporate team manager, said that the high volume of complaints meant that many “were not resolved within 20 working days”.

Across all departments of the council, including operations, there were 565 'stage one' complaints received in 2017/18, an increase from the 284 received in the previous year.

Since the introduction of the revised service, the council says errors have reduced and, as a result, complaints had continued to fall.

Councillor Marge Beuttell, executive councillor for operations and regulation, said: “Following the introduction of new refuse/recycling collection rounds last year, there was an initial increase in the number of missed bins while the crews got used to the new routes. There were 2.7 bins missed per 1,000 households in April 2017 and this contributed to a significant increase in complaints about the council's services at the time.

“The refuse/recycling service resolved the early issues and, by March 2018, there were only 0.59 bins missed per 1,000 households, below our target of 0.75. Complaints about missed bins have fallen correspondingly.”

Within the report, Mr Dobbyne also noted that there had been incidents of complainants being “rude, using inappropriate language or tone to our employees”. He said there was a need for a consistent approach to be outlined and communicated so council staff could be supported in such situations, and a “zero-tolerance approach” taken to abusive complainants.

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