RUBBISH collectors have been slammed for an “unacceptable” number of lorry breakdowns which led to missed collections.

Suez has been criticised by Maldon District Council after 27 vehicles broke down in the space of ten months.

The firm sends out 14 vehicles every working day to collect rubbish and recycling around the Maldon district, with lorries covering 3,000 routes per year.

But in the spring there were multiple occasions where routes were not completed.

In the agenda for the district council’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting held last week, it was revealed the worst months were March and May, which saw six and 11 breakdowns.

Vehicles were unable to go out for a number of technical problems, meaning they did not reach adequate health and safety standards.

The report said while the level of breakdowns had been unacceptable, “measures were put in place” by Suez to mitigate the effects, and has resulted in “a vastly improved and reliable service”.

The report also highlighted Suez had difficulty in taking on and keeping newly trained staff since it opened a Maldon depot, which has also contributed to missed collections.

Matt Canning, Regional Manager for SUEZ said: “The trucks that collect residents’ waste and recycling involve complex machinery designed to withstand intensive use, including bin lifts that are activated around 700 times on an average collection round and equipment that compacts the rubbish inside the body of the vehicle every time a bin is emptied into the truck.

“ We have a team of mechanics who service our trucks every six weeks in line with our operators licence, so they run efficiently and to reduce breakdowns.

“Any fault with a truck from a flat tyre to an issue with its hydraulic systems to an engine problem is classified as a breakdown, since it temporarily takes the vehicle out of service.

“Earlier this year we saw an increase in the number of faults on our trucks in Maldon, so we brought in additional vehicles to ensure a reliable service for Maldon residents whilst we worked with the manufacturer to investigate the issue.

“I’m pleased to say that faults with trucks have returned to the occasional instances we would ordinarily expect to see and we have retained the additional vehicles, so that should we experience any issues in future we can maintain a high quality service.”