Rubbish not collected from Hitchin primary school for seven weeks
PUBLISHED: 10:57 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:38 07 August 2018
A Hitchin primary school has not had its recycling collected for the last seven weeks, with a smelly pile of rubbish building up next to school walkways.
Despite numerous attempts by Highover JMI School’s site manager to secure an urgent collection, the backlog has continued to build up.
This week he has resorted to taking pictures of the piles of rubbish and handing them in at the North Herts District Council offices in Letchworth.
Highover head Lisa Hayes has also intervened, and asked for the recycling and missed waste collections to be dealt with as soon as possible.
“In the current heatwave the rubbish has developed a smell that may well start to affect our neighbours and community,” said Mrs Hayes.
“I would not be surprised if we start to see rats, and this becomes a public health hazard. I am horrified by the appalling service and the lack of concern or action shown by those responsible.”
Mrs Hayes has raised the issue with Walsworth ward councillors including Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg – who told the Comet she spent days trying to escalate the issue with North Herts District Council and its waste contractor Urbaser, without much progress.
“This is not good enough,” she told this paper. “The attitude I met was blasé and complacent.
“I’ve spent almost three months reporting these issues and it seems to me there are still far too many problems needing attention.
“These things are beyond teething problems. Collecting a school’s waste is pretty fundamental, and consistently failing to do so for two months is a horrific failure of service which puts the health of our children at risk. I’m thankful it’s the school holidays, but that in no way excuses the situation.”
Councillor Dennis-Harburg, who is shadow portfolio holder for waste in the district council’s Labour opposition, said Urbaser had told her they would only collect the rubbish from Highover on Thursday.
She added last night that NHDC’s leisure and environmental services head Vaughan Watson was “telling Urbaser to get it sorted”.
The situation has been condemned on social media as “horrendous” and “disgraceful”, with one neighbour noting that it was “downright unpleasant a month ago”.
Urbaser told the Comet that it had already emptied the waste on Friday as a repeated collection attempt.
A spokesman added: “The school may be on the commercial list, and we have been validating the information on that list as there have been lots of inconsistencies.
“The sacks are treated as side waste and not permitted for collection – they need to be containerised. We also couldn’t access the storage area on the scheduled day as it was locked.”