A RESIDENT’S investigation has revealed Colchester Council had 16 unfilled dustmen jobs and its new £4 million fleet of waste trucks did have less capacity than the previous ones... but they are being improved.

Kevin Starling, who is the chairman of Shrub End Residents’ Association, suggested the information accounted for missed or late collections which have blighted Colchester neighbourhoods in recent weeks.

His Freedom of Information request showed the cubic capacity of new dust trucks had been reduced from holding 10.75 tonnes of waste to 10.5 tonnes.

That’s despite council waste boss Martin Goss days ago stating in the Gazette it was “completely preposterous,” for anyone to suggest they are smaller.

However, speaking today, Mr Goss said: "We are increasing the number of vehicles in our waste and recycling fleet and are recalibrating the new vehicles to maximise their capacity.

“On Tuesday, one of our new vehicles recorded 10.8 tonne capacity, which is a comparable weight to previous fleet vehicles.”

Mr Goss said the trucks look smaller because they are a more "slender" design, but will have capacity for more waster than the old ones when the hydraulics have been altered.

There is also the problem of there being six vacancies for loaders and ten for drivers.

Mr Starling said: “Four weeks ago our garden waste was not collected on the Friday. Some was on the Saturday, and the remainder on the Sunday.

“The following week the black bags were left in Shrub End or only part of the estate was done.

“That prompted me to ask questions as to what’s going on and it started a bit of a ruckus.

“Some of the routes have been changed, they are doing nine and a half hour days just to clear their routes and it’s quite a physically demanding job.”

Mr Starling also queried why the vacancies were not being advertised on the council’s website.

A council spokesman said there were now ten vacant positions as the figure provided to Mr Starling was based on previous data.

He insisted it was not understaffed, adding: “We have always maintained a full staffing level. In fact, in recent weeks, we have brought in additional agency staff to support the waste and recycling service.

“We are carrying out an intensive recruitment campaign. This includes organising interviews of temporary agency staff who want a permanent role with the council.

“Further recruitment notices have begun to be posted on our website today.”