Agenda item

Amey Improvement Plan and Service Update

To receive a presentation providing an update on the progress made towards achieving the aims, priorities and objectives set out in Amey’s contract Improvement Plan for the 2021/22 financial year.


The Committee received a presentation in respect of the work taking place to achieve the targets and objectives set out in the Contract improvement Plan for 2021/22.


The shortage of HGV drivers continued to be the main area of concern for Amey and whilst agency drivers had been secured there were currently 11 vacancies across the joint contract area and sites were loaning drivers between areas to ensure that core collections could be maintained.  It was reported that since June 2021, 22 drivers had left Amey’s employment, 15 of these had been full time employees and 7 had been employed through agencies.  The majority of drivers (21) leaving had indicated that they were moving to higher paid roles with one driver leaving as their family had relocated out of the area.  


In September, Amey had introduced an enhanced recruitment and retention scheme for drivers with the introduction of driver retention payments of £2,000, £1,500 bonuses for new drivers, an increase in the refer a friend payments from £360 to £700 and the introduction of £2,000 retention payments to recognise the work of existing employees.

Securing the services of two additional drivers had enabled Amey to implement one-off garden waste collections across the joint contract area, with subscribers to the Garden Waste Service receiving one collection over a two week period.  Collections had started in Woking the week commencing 27th September 2021 and these would be followed by collections in Surrey Heath and Mole Valley during the weeks commencing 11th and 18th October 2021.  Following a break over the half term period, garden waste collections would take place in Elmbridge for a two week period commencing 1st November 2021.  Bulky waste collections had been reinstated, initially on a 50% capacity basis, in all areas.


In the longer term, a range of initiatives had been developed to help address the driver shortage including intensive HGV training, a leave buy back scheme, attendance bonuses, targeted recruitment and an expansion of the HGV Driver Apprenticeship offer with eight employees working towards the qualification.


It was noted that two employees had initially signed up to the apprenticeship scheme but had withdrawn because they felt that they would struggle with the English and maths elements of the course.  It was hoped that, with its reduced emphasis on academic elements, the introduction of the Intensive HGV driver course would encourage those members of staff who were not confident about their English and maths skills to pursue the training opportunity.  Where additional support was required to support staff complete these training schemes then this would be provided.


It was noted that the average age of drivers across the contract had been in the early fifties for some time now. A factor that was attributed to more experienced HGV drivers moving across to the service in search of regular hours and a more settled work location.


It was clarified that implementing the leave buy back scheme would constitute a change in workers’ contractual terms and conditions.  Consequently, approval from Amey’s central Human Resources Team was required and consultation with unions needed to take place before it could be implemented.


It was confirmed that, at the current time, the joint contract area was largely unaffected by the national difficulties being experienced in obtaining fuel.  The depots in Elmbridge, Surrey Heath and Woking had their own diesel tanks on site and these were well stocked.  Mole Valley did not have storage facilities on site and made use of fuel cards to refuel at local petrol stations instead; queuing for fuel was impacting on the service and vehicles were refuelling at the Elmbridge depot when petrol stations were closed or queues were too long and additional fuel had been ordered for the Elmbridge depot to cover this increased demand.  Amey’s fuel supplier had confirmed that they would continue to prioritise fuel deliveries to the depots and that they did not currently have concerns about obtaining supplies.  The supplier had also stressed to all their customers that fuel orders should be made on the same basis as usual and that orders should not be increased on the basis of media reports because this would impact on supplies.


The implementation of Whitespace, a new ICT system, was underway and was expected to go live for waste collections in mid-December and for street cleansing in February 2022.  It was noted that Whitespace was a cloud based system and would continue to be available to the contract authorities even if the contractor changed. 


The Committee commended the efforts that were taking place to ensure that the service continued to be delivered.  However concern was also expressed that there appeared to be no real sense of urgency in the actions being taken to tackle a problem that had been known about since June and was expected to become worse in the spring unless all services were operating normally.  The Committee’s concerns and the apparent disconnect between the communications between JWS, Amey and the Councils were noted.