Council leader Lorna Fielker has written the following open letter to residents as it was revealed that the council is using agency staff to clear its bin backlog.

She said: "I believe it is important that residents are updated on the current disruption to bin collections in some parts of our city.

"The cause of this disruption is due to changes we have made to working practices for waste operatives, specifically the ending of ‘task and finish’. 

"These changes have been introduced for two reasons.

"The first is to ensure a better service for you in the long-term by reducing rushing, and minimising opportunities for injury and missed bin collections.

"The second is to ensure all our staff are working to consistent terms and conditions, and everyone is working the hours they are paid for.

"Task and finish is a practice that has been used in other councils, and many have already moved away from it and found better ways of working.

"There is no reason why we can’t do this in Southampton too.  

"I strongly believe that residents deserve a first-class service and that staff are treated fairly and equally across the council.

"However, we have to make sure residents are getting value for money and making these changes will help us do this once the new working practices are embedded. 

"During this transition time, I want to apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

"I know there are still issues in some areas and to help with this, extra crews have been deployed to assist with catch-ups, for both general waste and recycling.

"Please continue to report missed collections and problems, as this ensures our waste teams can manage catch-ups as effectively as possible.

"For those concerned about recycling waste being collected in the same lorries as general waste, I can confirm that this only happens in areas where there is significant contamination of recycling and it is not being sent to landfill.

"Instead, it is sent to the Marchwood incinerator which generates electricity for local communities.     

"Thank you for your understanding and for bearing with us. I am in daily contact with the waste management team and am committed to restoring all rounds to an efficient, regular, and planned service as quickly as possible."