A significant shortage of drivers means the current suspension of garden waste collections across all of Central Bedfordshire will continue for the foreseeable future.

Central Bedfordshire Council says it does not anticipate the service resuming in August due to an "ongoing and significant" shortage of qualified large goods vehicle drivers.

The council is prioritising crews and drivers for the collection of critical household waste such as clinical waste, residual waste (black bins) and dry recycling - all of which remain unaffected.

A spokesman for the council said: "Like many local authorities, both locally and nationally, Central Bedfordshire has been significantly affected by a national shortage of LGV drivers, as well as staff needing to self-isolate due to the ongoing pandemic.

"The result of this labour market pressure, which is affecting the whole economy, means our waste collection teams have been stretched to the limit. The council and its contractors have increased efforts to stabilise crew numbers, to reduce the strain being caused."

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, executive member for community services, added: “We want to let residents know the ongoing impact of driver shortages is continuing to impact on our ability to resume garden waste collections, and could continue to do so for several weeks.

“We are sorry our residents are being impacted by the suspension and we thank them for their patience, whilst our teams work hard to prioritise critical household waste collections and explore different avenues to resolve the staffing shortages.

“We encourage residents to help us during this time by looking at alternative ways to manage their garden waste, such as the use of home composting where possible.”

Garden waste can still be recycled at any of the council’s four Household Waste Recycling Centres - at Ampthill, Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis - which are open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm, including bank holidays. Additional appointment slots have been added to help residents. Find out more and how to book a slot online at centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/tidytips

The council will keep the suspension decision under constant review and update residents at centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/waste-disruption