Uttlesford Council’s waste collection fiasco – where it was unable to fully collect residents’ waste for two weeks causing rubbish to pile up on streets due to failing to fund a licence holder – cost taxpayers £75,000 it has been revealed.

A report to full council revealed the series of events that led to a potentially “record number of complaints” over what has become known by many local residents as ‘bingate’.

The licence holder revocation meant the council’s fleet of 10 main waste collection trucks, two commercial waste vehicles and one smaller truck used for narrower lanes, was off the road for two weeks, from January 24 to February 6.

For the first three days, the residual waste bins and food caddies for three-quarters of the district were not emptied and thus began a substantial backlog.

By the following week, a ‘patchwork quilt’ of alternative providers began to come online, increasing in volume day by day until a peak of nine big trucks and crews were on the road.

Some of these crews worked full and long days, while others came over to Uttlesford in the early afternoon at the end of their shifts in Braintree.

Some of these crews and trucks also worked on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

The council has been open about its “significant failing” but said that it has come out stronger with a more robust system in place.

The Operational Resilience Task and Finish Group responsible for looking into the episode said it “strongly supports the current exercise to identify, and then prioritise and mitigate, key service resilience risks across the whole organisation.”

Almost £68,000 has been paid to Braintree District Council and £36,000 to a skip company. After deducting items representing double counting and recoverable costs the episode cost Uttlesford council taxpayers £75,319.

The council has been open about its failure but said that it comes out stronger with more robust systems in place.

A report to councillors, at full council on April 23 concluded there was a “significant failing” in the proper management of the process to cope with the unplanned and immediate departure of the operator’s licence holder.

It added: “This failure to ensure a timely replacement was due to human error, and happened in the complex context of mitigating factors.

“However, this situation underlines the absence of a systemic solution to managing such major risks and critical service dependencies.


Chair of Uttlesford’s Operational Resilience Task and Finish Group, Councillor Bianca Donald said: “Our disruption to the waste and refuse collection did not cover us in glory but I think that our response to it was very good."

Cllr Donald added that the council is now identifying where else the council may be at risk of single points of failure

She added: “So from this disappointing situation we should as a body come through stronger and with a more robust system in place.”