Robust plans are in place to ensure Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s waste collection will not be disrupted during the winter period.
The issue was raised during a meeting of Council’s environmental services committee this week.
The chair of the committee, Councillor Darryn Causby said recent announcements in relation to Covid-19 have made the situation “challenging” and told members he had nominated them all, including himself, to work on the bin lorries if required.
He also praised staff for their efforts in continuing to work and ensure the bins are still being lifted.
“I am keen to make sure some challenges that we faced during the July holiday period have been learnt from,” said Councillor Causby.
“Can I get assurances this evening that we are prepared for the Christmas holiday?”
Council’s head of environmental services, Barry Patience confirmed that Council is now better prepared for the challenges ahead.
“Yes, we are better prepared now, we know the impact of what we are likely to face,” said Mr Patience.
“There is a robust plan in place to make sure the drivers are in place. We have an arrangement with a number of organisations to secure drivers at short notice if needed and I am happy that we are in a position to deal with the challenges ahead.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Julie Flaherty asked about the recruitment process for HGV drivers and how Council is working to fill its vacant roles in this regard.
“In terms of recruitment for HGV drivers, how are we doing with that,” asked Cllr Flaherty.
“At one stage we were looking nine HGV drivers so where are we with that?”
Mr Patience confirmed the recruitment process is currently underway.
“The posts are not all filled yet,” said Mr Patience. “We advertise internally first and let our staff apply for the posts first. If the posts are not filled after the internal process is complete then we will advertise the positions externally.
“The internal recruitment process closed for applications last week, if they are not filled we will then go to the general public.”
DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath praised staff from across Council for their ability to shift roles to ensure bins were collected throughout the year.
“Not a bin was missed throughout the whole first phase of the pandemic,” said Cllr McIlwrath.
“Things are still going good. It is particularly encouraging to see the number of leisure staff move across to help out and I want to pass my thanks to everyone involved in this operation.”