A QUIET revolution in the way Redditch tackles local environment issues is not only producing a better service but also empowering council staff.
Instead of having defined roles for workers, the teams based at Redditch’s Crossgates depot on Park Farm have evolved into multi-functional, multi-tasking units capable of handling anything from grass cutting and litter picking to bulk rubbish collections, fly tipping and wheelie bin deliveries – and everything in between.
Along the way they have improved relations with residents, boosted the skills of staff and made Redditch a cleaner, brighter place to live.
In fact the programme has proved so effective the borough has become the envy of other local authorities.
“In the past a supervisor would draw up a schedule and you’d go out and you’d do exactly what was on that schedule, even if the actual demand for that service was quite low,” said Dave Kesterton, environmental services team leader.
“It led, at times, to the ridiculous situation of, for instance, cutting the grass in summer after a dry spell when it obviously didn’t need cutting.”
Staff, meanwhile, had little opportunity to develop their skills and Dave admits that out in the community, people were fed up with the level of service.
“It’s fair to say that in some parts of the town people had just given up on us,” he said, “and when we introduced this new way of working, well, they were stunned.”
After a pilot scheme proved a success, the initiative was rolled out across the borough.
At its heart are 12 man teams, each with a range of skills and each trusted to use their own initiative to get a job done.
“It empowers the guys to go out and make a decision – if you see something and you think it needs doing then we are happy to trust you to do it,” said Dave. “It brings us closer to the customer and it builds relations with them.
“In the past if someone’s wheelie bin went missing it might take a week for a new one to be delivered. Now it can be the next day.
“There’s still a long way to go but we are working on it – I always say that you should not come to work for the council if you don’t want to help people, and hopefully, that’s what we are doing.”