GARDEN waste collections will begin next month for Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Rowley Regis and Oldbury residents.

Sandwell Council said it has delayed the return of garden waste collections this year to prioritise household waste and recycling collections, which have have been hit by Covid-19 related staff absences.

They will start between Monday March 15 and Friday March 26, which is slightly later than usual.

Residents’ first collection date will depend on the schedule for the area and bin dates will be available at from Saturday 13 March.

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader for Sandwell Council, said: "The crews have been doing an amazing job during the Covid-19 pandemic which has had a major impact on Sandwell and our region.

"We have taken the decision, along with our environmental partners Serco, to delay the start of garden waste collections.

“There is always little garden waste to collect in February and taking in consideration the impact of Covid-19 on crews, this will give our waste service the time to catch up on household waste and recycling collections during this difficult time.

“We are still starting sooner than some of our neighbouring boroughs who also deliver a free garden waste service.

"Crews will work to empty garden bins on people’s usual collection day.

"However, with constant challenges faced with Covid-19 staff related absences, there may be instances where other waste and recycling services will be prioritised, which could cause delays to collections. If the garden waste bins in your road aren't collected on your scheduled day, they should be left out until they are emptied.

"The crews will get to them as soon as they possibly can."