Agency staff contributing to 'untidy' recycling container returns, council hears

St Helens town hall
St Helens town hall
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The use of agency staff is contributing to the untidy way some recycling containers are returned to households following collections, a council meeting was told.

Paul McHenry, the council’s service manager for environmental and transport services, said this week he was “not happy” about the way some staff return containers.

Mr McHenry was speaking at the council’s environment, regeneration, housing, culture and leisure overview and scrutiny panel.

At the meeting, Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley said he has received numerous complaints from residents about the state of the streets after collections.

“I think there are two issues,” Mr McHenry said.

“First of all, about the way that our employees return the containers, which is something I’m not happy about, I have to say.

“We do have a lot of agency staff who come and go and think one of the issues we’ve got to undertake within our operational unit is to make sure all staff return containers as they should be.

“That’s an ongoing thing. That is something that I’ve already looked to action.”

Mr McHenry said the council recently employed a new operations manager to manage front-line delivery and said he will be speaking to the new manager about the issue.

Mr McHenry said agency staff levels fluctuate throughout the year, staying relatively low in the winter and increasing in the summer months when the council need to back-fill positions due to holidays.

The waste boss said some agency staff have worked for the council for “considerable periods of time”.

He said the council intends to employ some of the agency staff full-time and revealed he attended a meeting with trade union officials on Tuesday.

Mr McHenry said: “One of the things I’ve been unhappy with in my tenure – I’ve been here seven months so far – is the fact that we’ve had a number of agency staff who’ve worked for us for quite considerable periods of time.

“So, one of the things we’re looking to do is actually employ some of those people full-time, so that will reduce the reliance on agency.

“And we have other members of the workforce who’ll be coming to join the service as well from Street Cleansing and some other areas later this year and early next year.”