OPPOSITION councillors have called for a review of waste services due to missed collections and concerns over budget forecasts.

Figures from Colchester Council’s governance and audit committee meeting earlier this month stated pressure on refuse and recycling collections meant an extra £175,000 and £250,000 was projected to be spent on employee overspend and staffing costs respectively.

Another £50,000 overspend was expected on the introduction of vouchers for all waste storage bins used by residents.

An extra £95,000 income from food waste credits from Essex County Council was also anticipated, meaning the figures showed overspend was likely to be around £380,000.

Lewis Barber, deputy leader of Colchester Conservatives, said the projected figures were concerning.

“Many residents have got in touch about repeated issues with waste collections across parts of the borough,” he said.

“If this mismanagement by the administration is not addressed then residents will be impacted by service cuts or tax rises.

“We are demanding an investigation into the waste service to ensure this is avoided and to stand up for residents.”

However, a spokesman for Colchester Council said an up-to-date overspend figure for the end of August is £83,750.

He said: “Expenditure against the budget this year includes £212,000 of one-off management redundancy costs associated with the formation of Neighbourhood Services.

“The budget also includes £175,100 of savings from delaying filling posts when staff leave, which have not been achieved as all vacant posts have been filled immediately or covered with agency staff to ensure that operational services are continuously provided.

“Once these two items are considered together, Neighbourhood Services is forecasting an overspend of £83,750 on the £8.7m budget, which represents 1 per cent. This overspend is made up of £30K additional staff and training costs associated with developing the new service and £50K on additional recycling containers as recycling activity by residents continues to rise.”

Management posts have been reduced but no frontline staff have been affected. The council says numbers have been increased.

Jackie Maclean (Cons, Marks Tey and Layer) asked for answers over missed collections, staff vacancies and the budget at a meeting of the council’s cabinet.

Martin Goss, councillor responsible for waste, environment and transportation, said staff vacancies were being filled and staff costs were expected to reduce.

He said: “We have had a couple of resignations since but we are back filling those. You will always get turnover in organisations.

“I’m not aware of the budget being under pressure because obviously all of this is baked in. The budget has a forecast of permanent versus agency staff which is currently on target.

“With us recruiting permanent staff, numbers of agency staff will drop off, but they are used and they are vital to giving flexibility in the service because of people taking holidays etc.”

Council leader Mark Cory added: “The investment is there if we need to go above and beyond as recycling figures are going up, showing our changes have worked, and we are now much much better at it and have record rates.”