Bin collections cancelled across the UK

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Bin collections cancelled across the UK
Xmas bin collections at risk in Britain as lorry drivers quit council jobs. image: creative commons

With coronavirus cases at an all-time high and a shortage of lateral flow devices contributing to the disruption, bin collections are being cancelled all across the UK. The step is being taken as the government prepares for unprecedented absences and staff shortages.

The scaling back comes after the Government asked public sector leaders to plan for a worst-case scenario based on their projections of up to a quarter of public sector staff being absent due to the virus.

Ed Argar, Minister for Health, has asked leaders to make contingency plans “as this was the responsible and sensible thing.” Critics had called for the isolation period to be reduced from seven to five days in an effort to limit the damage, however the minister has argued against this quoting scientific advice.

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A number of councils have already cancelled or scaled back their collections including Councils in Manchester, Essex, Somerset and Buckinghamshire.

In Chelmsford they have cancelled three days’ worth of food waste collections, while 1,000 recycling bins were not collected in North Somerset.

The shortage of lateral flow devices (LFDs) and PCR tests has also contributed to the problem, with people unable to leave self-isolation if they return a negative test. Currently the requirement is ten days isolation without a test.


There is talk that the government intends to prioritise public sector workers for LFDs, effectively allowing key workers such as nurses, police and refuse collectors to jump the queue. How that might work and what evidence will need to be provided is unclear at this time.

Asked whether he thought such absence levels were likely to occur, Mr Argar told Times Radio: “I think we model a range of scenarios up to things we think are highly unlikely, but you still do it because that’s what a responsible Government does in preparing for all eventualities.”

Recent data shows that almost one in 10 NHS staff were absent on New Year’s Eve, prompting Jon Richards, UNISON Assistant General Secretary, to call on the Government to deliver more rapid tests and prioritise them for essential workers.


Lincolnshire United Hospitals declared a critical incident on January 2nd due to “extreme and unprecedented” staff shortages. Staff shortages are said to have “compromised care across our hospitals, and an inability to maintain a number of key pathways, including those around stroke and cardiac care.”

The news that bin collections are being cancelled across the UK will not please householders who have already experienced a reduction in the service over the past decade.


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