"SEVERE" staff shortages have led to New Forest District Council (NFDC) suspending its garden waste collection service from next week.

The suspension starts from Monday (July 19) and will be for a minimum of four weeks but this, the council says, will be "kept under review".

NFDC says it has experienced staff shortages across the whole waste and recycling service recently and despite some vacancies being filled, there is now "not enough staff to carry out all the services provided".

On Wednesday (July 14) it took the decision to suspend the garden waste collection service to allow it to continue collecting household waste and recycling from the 80,000 homes in the district.

Staff from the garden waste service will be redeployed to black and clear sack collections.

The suspension is likely to be for a minimum of four weeks, and will be kept under review, reinstating as soon as possible.

Cllr Steve Davies, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Coastal Services at NFDC, said “It is of course regrettable we are faced with this situation to suspend the garden waste service, but core services of residual waste and recycling must take priority.

“These staff shortages are due to a number of factors, including self-isolation and the national HGV driver shortage that has received widespread national press coverage, affecting services across the country. Officers are doing all they can to solve this and are working with agencies, and advertising for additional staff.

“I am sorry to any of our residents who use the garden waste collection service who may be inconvenienced by this and I ask for their understanding while we do all we can to enable the service to start again.”

Updates will be added to NFDC's website and emails will be sent to people who subscribe to the council's residents emails.

Garden waste can instead be composted at home or taken to one of Hampshire County Council’s tips by booking a slot online.

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