The issue of bin lorry drivers struggling to go down narrow streets in Reading has been raised with the council.

In Reading, grey bins for household waste and red bins for recycling are collected every fortnight, and food waste is collected weekly.

But sometimes, drivers struggle to get down narrow streets, which has led to a suggestion that Reading Borough Council use smaller vehicles like those used to collect food waste.

The suggestion was made by councillor Dave McElroy (Green, Redlands) who asked: “Many times the lorry that collects waste from the grey and red bins has not been able to access some of the narrower roads in Redlands, and I’m sure across the town.

“This has meant bins haven’t been emptied and caused all sorts of waste related problems.

“The food waste collection uses a smaller vehicle and is able to access narrower roads with greater ease.”

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He then asked Cllr Adele Barnett-Ward, lead councillor for neighbourhoods and communities, to update him on the result of an investigation into using smaller waste collection vehicles.

Cllr Barnett-Ward, (Labour, Caversham) acknowledged that difficulties could arise on bin collection days, specifically referring to Blenheim Road in the university area, which is made up terraced houses, occuppied by a mix of families and student HMOs.

Like many residential streets in the areas, cars are parked on both sides of the street.

Reading Chronicle: Bins out in Blenheim Road, East Reading, which was mentioned as a road which bin drivers find it difficult to negotiate. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceBins out in Blenheim Road, East Reading, which was mentioned as a road which bin drivers find it difficult to negotiate. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

However, she said that only 10 roads out of thousands in the borough had been identified as having repeated access issues, and that downsizing to smaller waste collection vehicles would be an inefficient solution to the problem.

Also, although the council’s bin lorry provider makes a smaller 18 tonne lorry as well as the 27 tonne one the council currently uses, there is no difference in the width between the two vehicles.

Cllr Barnett-Ward explained that the council’s food waste collection vehicle has a weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes, cannot compact waste it collects, and costs around £92,000 per year to operate one vehicle.

She went on to explain that a single 7.5 tonne lorry could only serve 30-40 homes before having to deposit waste at the Smallmead waste management site.

Cllr Barnett-Ward said: “A food waste sized vehicle collecting recycling or residual waste could only collect 150 households a day making it a highly inefficient model with significant environmental and financial impacts.”

She added that the council’s waste collection fleet is already at “full capacity” at the council’s Bennett Road depot, meaning it can only replace vehicles rather than add them.

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Cllr Barnett-Ward said: “As a food waste sized vehicle would be so much less efficient than our standard refuse collection vehicles, we could not justify removing a full sized lorry from the fleet to acommodate one.”

Instead, she said her department was looking into sack collections loaded into a tipper vehicle or parking restrictions to penalise drivers for poor parking during waste collection days.

Cllr McElroy asked for a timescale for solutions, but Cllr Barnett-Ward said she would not impose an “arbritary timeline” on arriving at a proper solution.