pay increases are being offered in a bid to attract refuse lorry drivers and bin ‘loaders’ as household wheelie bin collection setbacks continue.

East Hampshire District Council provides the service, but at a cost of £30m over ten years it subcontracted it to Havant Borough Council, which in turn awarded it to Norse South East.

Norse South East is a for-profit company run by Havant Borough Council and Norfolk County Council – but it can’t get enough staff.

In an attempt to stop collection schedules unravelling further, EHDC says it will pay more to attract bin operatives.

Drivers are being offered a 22 per cent raise on a salary of £25,500, taking their estimated annual pay to more than £30,000.

Loaders are to get an 11 per cent rise to their basic £11.10 an hour, giving them an estimated salary of about £25,500.

In a statement, EHDC leader Richard Millard said: “The difficulties with our waste collection are continuing.

“The fundamental issue is a national shortage of personnel qualified to safely drive and load refuse collection vehicles.

“Norse South East doesn’t have enough crews to collect waste, recycling, garden waste and kerbside glass currently.”

The council says emptying general waste wheelie bins will be a priority, but glass collections will be suspended for a month (see Page 7).

Cllr Millard said: “This will allow us time to recruit more staff.

“We know this is not a solution, but it is the best use of our limited resources at the moment.

“We will monitor the staff situation and, hopefully, lift the suspension after a month.”

On a plus note, the green waste service extension is ready to be launched, with the bins ready to be distributed.

But because of the North South East shortages, the council is to use staff from other departments to deliver them.

The EHDC statement also said: “EHDC and Havant Borough Council (HBC) are investigating an expedited exit from the current contract, which sees HBC responsible for EHDC’s waste collection services.

“We are in discussions to enable this to happen quickly.

“This will ensure EHDC returns to a direct relationship with North South East with control over our own contract.”