NEW Thurrock food waste bin lorries bought for hundreds of thousands of pounds were found to be not fit for purpose and unsafe, it has been revealed.

A council report says 21 new bin lorries were bought by Thurrock Council last year but ten “podded vehicles” to be used for both food waste and recycling collection turned out to unusable for food collection.

The vehicles, part of a £4.6 million investment in household waste collection, were meant to allow food to be loaded from the side and recycling from the rear but opened high enough to touch overhead cables and proved too difficult for drivers to monitor them safely.

The annual environment, sport, and leisure report was presented to the cleaner, greener, safer overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday where Andrew Jefferies, leader of the council and councillor responsible for the environment and economic development was questioned over the costly glitch by Mark Hurrell, Labour councillor for Belhus.

Mr Jefferies said: “When they tested them they realised the side pod, when they lifted it up it went up but it was too high. There has to be a certain clearance for cables and it was too high.

“The other thing that became pretty apparent was it wasn’t safe for the men and women operating the vehicles. The driver could not keep an eye on the back of the vehicle and the side the vehicle to make sure crews were safe so it was decided they were not appropriate. We’ve got smaller vehicles now collecting the food waste.”

Mr Hurrell said: “Why wasn’t it looked at before? Why wasn’t one bought and looked at first?”

In response, Mr Jefferies said: “Good question. The honest answer, the people responsible for buying those vehicles are no longer here and if they were I’d love to ask them “why did you go and buy vehicles that aren’t suitable”? It’s frustrating because they were bought for a specific job and we can’t use them for that job any more. We’re having to review the whole service to make sure we’ve got the right vehicles.”

Mr Hurrell said: “It’s not good that people lose their jobs but it’s good they are not here if they’ve made these mistakes. It’s pretty obvious if you are going to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe into the million you should have them checked first.”