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Complaints about waste services in Torfaen more than double in one year

THE number of complaints about waste services in Torfaen more than doubled in a year, figures show.

During the 2022/23 financial year – which closed at the end of March – the number of complaints relating to all aspects of Torfaen Borough Council’s waste service increased from 29 in the previous year to 66.

However the council has cautioned that the way it categorises complaints changed from the third quarter of the year, meaning more contacts made with the council are recorded as ‘stage one’ complaints.

As a result the total number of complaints received by the council in the past year was 160, with 139 of those at stage one, which are complaints that can be resolved informally within 10 working days.

If a complaint cannot be resolved at that point they progress to stage two, which requires a formal investigation within 20 working days. After that complainants can contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

During 2022/23 there were three stage two complaints and 18 received from the ombudsman.

In total complaints increased by 73.9 per cent on the previous year, when there were, 92 complaints while the council’s complaints team dealt with 1,006 contacts in addition to the formal complaints recorded. This figure has decreased by 9.3 per cent on the 1,109 calls taken during 2021/22.

The council also received 110 compliments from members of the public ranging from those praising bin men for being helpful to gratitude for assistance with the care arrangements of elderly parents.

Changes to how contacts and complaints are categorised have been attributed to the council’s economy and environment directorate seeing the largest increase in complaints which the council said is due to more reports of missed waste collections being registered as complaints.

Changes to vehicles, human error, staff absences and an increase in the amount of waste and recycling to be collected have all contributed to the increase in complaints, according to the council.

There were 97 stage one complaints about the directorate with 75 upheld, 18 were not upheld and five were part upheld.

A further 723 calls relating to the directorate were resolved as service issues, which was a decrease on the 777 received in 2021/22.

There was one stage two complaint about delivery/removal of bins and communication which was upheld in part and resulted in changes to frequency of request ‘tickets’ being shared while the council is working on sharing information digitally.

Social care complaints are dealt with under their own procedure, and there were 15 complaints at stage one, an increase from 14 the previous year, and two stage two investigations. Two complaints were also considered under the council’s corporate complaints process.

In Children and Family Services, there were 12 stage one complaints ranging from communication, quality of service and promoting independence. Complaints are described as largely “a result of communication issues”.

In Adult Services, there were three stage one complaints which were largely related to assessment, range and quality of services.

The council received 18 contacts from the ombudsman, although one was recorded as an enquiry and the body didn’t launch any investigations as a result.

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Complaints about waste services in Torfaen more than double in one year

a recycling box at the doorstep
Torfaen Waste Ldrs Food waste and recycling waiting for collection in Pontypool. Picture: LDRS