'Pac-Man' bin collections to hit the streets of South Yorkshire

Barnsley Town Hall. Credit: BBC Local Democracy Service
Barnsley Town Hall. Credit: BBC Local Democracy Service
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A driver aid likened to the hugely popular 1980s Pac-man computer game will be introduced on bin lorries in Barnsley next year in a move aimed at improving the council’s performance on its collection rounds.

Traditional paper maps will be scrapped in favour of an automated sat-nav style screen in the cab, which will show drivers their predetermined rounds as a series of dots on the streets they have to tour, with the dots disappearing as they complete the round.

Councillors were told by Mel Fitzpatrick, the authority’s officer in charge of the project: “For the driver, they eat the dots, a bit like the Pac-man game”.

That makes it less likely bins will be missed, though the dots disappear as a result of the lorry touring the streets rather than specific bins being emptied, meaning there will still be potential for human error.

However, the new system is expected to tighten up on what the council believe are already good performance levels from the eight million bin ‘lifts’ it conducts in the town each year.

“We usually have standard crews on standard rounds but sometimes they have to be replaced,” she said.

“This will put it on screen, so they know where they are going. It is about making sure we have real time monitoring so we know where they are and where the bins have been collected.”

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A review of waste collections has been conducted with a series of changes now planned to improve the service.

That includes the introduction of new collection lorries and the in-cab equipment to both help crews and allow council managers to ensure the authority is working as efficiently as possible.

Some grey bin collection routes, for general waste, have also been re-balanced though councillors were told relatively few residents had been affected by that.

Member of the council’s central area council, which represents communities around the town centre including Kingstone, Worsbrough and Stairfoot, heard that 99.95 per cent of the 8.12m bin collections carried out each year were ‘right first time’, with 99.6 per cent of assisted collections – where collection crews go into residents’ gardens to collect bins rather than expecting them to be put out on the street – collected as expected.

Those collections are available for residents with disabilities and are in place at 3,000 addresses across the borough.