Complaints over bin collection hit 72 a day

Fortnightly collections were brought in to reduce landfill. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Fortnightly collections were brought in to reduce landfill. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Fed-up residents are still being let down by fortnightly bin collections as it emerged 72 complaints a day are made about the service.

Figures suggest the waste and recycling collections are still struggling to bed in nine months after they began with grievance rates 70 per cent higher than before the scaled-back collections came into force.

The most recent statistics for June/July this year shows there were 4430 complaints received compared to 2578 during the same period in 2012.

There were huge “teething” problems when the city moved from weekly to fortnightly collections of green bins – general household waste – last September, with about 11,000 complaints received about uncollected bins and mounting rubbish in just a few weeks.

Extra staff had to be drafted in to cope with a huge backlog amid reports that some bins were going uncollected for months.

The radical move aimed to boost the Capital’s green credentials by slashing the amount of waste taken to landfill as the city pursues recycling rates of 50 per cent by next year.

Today, critics claim the reduced collections may have been ill-conceived, while questions have been raised over a bizarre decision to remove damning performance statistics about the service from committee reports.

Councillor Allan Jackson, of Forth ward, said he had to request collection rates from officials after the figures failed to appear in three consecutive council reports.

He said: “The last time we saw a performance review was in January which means the last three committee reports have not had the figures in it.

“Obviously it’s a bit suspicious that they have stopped providing this information after the highest number of waste collection complaints ever seen.

“I hope they are not trying to mask the reports, or hide bad news, and have no reason to think that is the case but others may think that.

“Councillors can get the 
figures by specifically asking for them but it’s very disappointing that we have not had them since January and they were covering the months of October and November.”

Cllr Jackson insisted nine months was an “excessively long time” to iron out the creases in the new system.

“It’s very disappointing that the new system still has not bedded in fully yet.

“It could be because it was not properly thought out in the first place but all my colleagues have seen a greatly increased number of complaints and I would receive at least three or four a week.”

Last month, a report into waste operations revealed that the city had saved more than £1 million in landfill costs, with the proportion of refuse being recycled hitting an all-time high of 38 per cent.

It also showed that the number of “total issues” blighting operations had plummeted.

Environment convener Cllr Lesley Hinds said she recognised complaint levels were still “too high”.

She said: “The introduction of managed weekly collections was a massive change to the waste removal system in Edinburgh with the aim of improving our recycling rates and reducing the amount going to landfill.

“Initial teething problems largely settled down within a few months and we now ensure our figures are carefully scrutinised by both the policy and strategy and best value committees.

“We recognise these figures are too high which is why we are looking at new technology in the cabs to give us the most up-to-date and efficient information available to deal with complaints.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com