Ashley and his colleagues will drive on through Winter to pick up your waste and recycling

Ashley Neville has a job that each day involves walking around 14 miles to provide a service to up to 2,000 properties whatever the weather and right through Christmas other than on December 25 and 26

Published: Friday, 20th December 2019

The 39-year old has been a bin-man for the last 15 years covering his home town of Banbury and the rest of the north Oxfordshire area on behalf of Cherwell District Council. In total Ashley and his colleagues collected 26,300 tonnes of waste in 2018, 18,500 tonnes of compost from garden bins and 11,000 tonnes of recycling.

Earlier this year the council conducted an annual satisfaction survey and the results were clear that waste collection is among the most valued services that the council provides – which is a good thing for Ashley and his colleagues to recall when they’re getting out of bed at 5:30am on a cold winter morning ready to start their round before 7am.

“It’s hard work, there’s no doubt about it and a fair amount more to it than people might imagine. More often than not I am the driver of a lorry. There will be two other people as the crew. It’s great to have a job that involves being out and about, especially in the Summer when you’re on a round that takes us through our beautiful countryside.

“All of us enjoy talking to the residents we serve. They’ll often talk to us and pass the time of day or just give us a wave and say hello. Sometimes we’re able to give them advice on recycling, including putting the right things in the right bins. It’s always appreciated. It’s great to be a small part of their lives and provide a service that we know they value.

“My day starts with a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee where I live in Middleton Cheney. By 6:45 we’ll be ready to go out on one of the 19 rounds that the council covers on a daily basis. Often we can be finished and able to go home by 5pm but sometimes it can be as late as 6:15pm.

“Bad weather is probably the most difficult part of the job along with observing poor driving from other drivers. As a driver of the lorry I have to take particular care over the winter months. On icy roads you have to be very careful with such a big vehicle and you need to be very gentle around corners.

“Driving one of our vehicles definitely improves our driving. I’m actually also a driving assessor for the council – we have to assess driving to make sure someone is of a high enough quality to be responsible for one of our vehicles.

“Being a driver is more than just steering the wheel. There’s an onboard system that makes clear if there’s been a contaminated bin and another monitoring device that is designed to save fuel and promote safe driving. It works by recording every aspect of a journey and lets the driver know if they are accelerating, cornering or braking too hard. All of the information is sent back to a central computer system and drivers are given an assessment.

“At Christmas we have an extra job – which is to put stickers on bins to tell people about changes to rounds over the Christmas period. You’d be surprised how much extra time that single task can add on to our rounds!

“All in all it’s a job that involves a lot of hard work, but its also a great job and we were glad to hear people appreciate what we do.”

Councillor Dan Sames, Cherwell District Council’s Cabinet Member for Clean and Green, said: “Ashley and all of the waste collection crews do a fantastic job all year round. They are out in all weathers and provide an excellent service on behalf of residents and businesses within Cherwell. Waste collection is one of the most visible services provided by Cherwell District Council and one that we all value greatly. At this time of year in particular, I would like to thank all the crews, on behalf of residents, for their hard work in keeping our District clean and green and wish them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”