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Councillor goes out on the bin round with refuse crews

Published: 12 July 2022

Councillor goes out on the bin round with refuse crews Cllr Ruth Williams

A leading councillor has been out with the bin crews in Exeter to find out just what it’s like to be on the ‘front line’.

Cllr Ruth Williams went out with the refuse crews from Exeter City Council to get an insight into their work.

Cllr Williams is the City Council’s Lead Councillor responsible for Recycling.

With an alarm call of 5am, Cllr Williams was able to see just how hard the crews work and how physically demanding the job is. She was also able to see the daily challenges the crews face to collect the city’s rubbish and recycling.

Arriving at the Council’s depot in Exton Road for 5:45, she changed into full PPE and was given training on loading the bins on the back of the vehicles.

After carrying out vehicle safety checks – tyres, lights etc. – she jumped into the cab and set off into the city.

What impressed me the most was how methodical it was, particularly in the streets with cars parked nose to tail,” said Cllr Williams.

“The narrow terraced streets with parked cars was a particular challenge for the driver. Some street were dead ends requiring him to reverse with only inches to spare either side!” she added

Cllr Williams

Parked cars represent one of the biggest challenges for the crews in many of Exeter’s Victorian terraced road and Cllr Williams was shown how to manoeuvre the bins inbetween the gaps for emptying.

“One thing that I found a challenge was remembering which house to return the bin to if there was no number on the bin! Apologies to any household if I got it wrong,” she said.

The vehicle reached very near its 10 ton maximum load after about four hours, so it was back to the depot for a tea-break. However the vehicle had to visit the Energy from Waste recovery plant in Marsh Barton to drop off the load - weighing the vehicle in and out on the weighbridge for the City Council to record its refuse statistics.  

The crew had a short break before heading back out to Polsloe to complete the round. “I was allowed to go home having completed 10,000 steps and a pretty thorough physical workout,” she said. 

“We received lots of ‘thank yous’ from residents who were out and about, which was lovely. I really enjoyed my morning stint with the refuse collection team. They have a great team spirit and enjoy their work. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a job to give it a try,” she added. 

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