DORSET Waste Partnership drivers may be about to get a pay rise – after problems recruiting.

An investigation found that the council-run partnership is paying a much lower hourly rate than neighbouring waste collectors, or the private sector.

The lack of drivers, together with other problems including breakdowns, has led to problems in some areas.

Crossways area councillor Nick Ireland says he has received more complaints about DWP services since May than he received in the previous two years.

In a question to Tuesday’s Dorset Council cabinet meeting he said there had been a dramatic reduction in service quality in recent months.

“Having communicated with officers regarding the situation at the depot serving my community (Wareham), the problems there stem from a shortage of serviceable vehicles combined with a chronic lack of qualified drivers.”

He said a recent advert for drivers resulted in no new applicants.

“It appears that the major reason for this situation is that DWP don’t pay enough. They have lost permanent employees to other, more lucrative roles and the agencies who supply DWP have stated that they can’t source drivers at the rates payable.”

He said that while DWP was paying £9.03p per hour, others were starting on £10.67 an hour and enjoyed better overtime and Bank Holiday rates.

Portfolio Holder for Customer, Community and Regulatory Services Cllr Tony Alford said that services from the Wareham depot had been affected by a number of vehicle breakdowns coupled with recruitment problems.

Cllr Alford said the council would now review pay rates for DWP drivers, including the option of a market supplement being applied to DWP driver posts.

“In the meantime, drivers from other depots will continue to assist on the collection rounds in the Wareham area and we are also conducting in-house training for loaders to become drivers. While taking on temporary staff has been necessary, we should point out that we are not currently exceeding DWP staffing or hire vehicle budgets,” he said.

He also apologised to local people whose bin services had been affected.