Sunshine blamed for lack of brown bin collections

A woman puts garden clippings in  her brown bin. The council says it is catching up with the backlog. Picture: Greg Macvean

A woman puts garden clippings in her brown bin. The council says it is catching up with the backlog. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A GARDENING boom during especially sunny months has been blamed for a spate of missed brown bin collections across the Capital.

Green-fingered residents were drawn to their gardens during hot spells producing a spike in the volume of grass cuttings and clippings needing to be recycled, city officials said.

The upsurge in garden waste was so pronounced that collections struggled to keep up with the extra demand.

Figures show the tonnage of garden waste produced in May and April soared by 38 per cent on the same period last year while complaints about missed collections doubled as overflowing brown bins were left cluttering pavements.

Waste bosses blamed hot weather for catching the service off guard and will consider allocating more resources ­during next year’s growing ­system.

Jim Hunter, acting head of environment, told a recent transport and environment meeting there had been “very high levels of green waste” compared with previous years because of the fine weather. 
Waste and fleet services manager Gareth Barwell said that when there was a surge in garden waste bins became “very heavy” and collection vehicles could only carry “a certain amount”.

“Residents shouldn’t have to worry about that”, he said. “It’s fair to say that in certain parts of the city the level of service hasn’t been what it should be.

“We’re doing our best to catch that back up and hopefully with the weather we’re now experiencing we’re getting back on track.

“What we need is a contingency group of staff and vehicles to take care of it when we do get growing spells at short notice so that we do collect on the days that we tell residents.”

Conservatives leader Councillor Cameron Rose said blackspots were an ongoing issue and dismissed claims about hot weather as “not a satisfactory excuse”.

“That was the explanation earlier on in the year but not for later on – we get summer every year,” he said.

“It’s an illustration of the problems we’ve been having in different areas. It’s almost like it’s going around in a rota: this week it’s garden waste, next week it’ll be collecting bins from housing developments, then we’ll go back to not collecting street bins. I’m frustrated because it just goes on and on.

“Where a service has been offered, it’s a failure not to provide the service that has been offered. Have we got the right system for refuse collection, and have we got the resources to do it? The answer right now clearly is no, we don’t have the ability to provide a satisfactory service.”

A council spokeswoman said due to an “unpredicted rise” in garden waste, refuse trucks were sometimes unable “to complete routes on scheduled days having reached maximum weight”.

She said: “We experienced a significant increase in the volume of garden waste collected this spring compared to the same time last year, primarily as a result of a period of good weather that gave ideal growing conditions.

“However, teams endeavoured to collect garden waste as soon as possible after this and overall 99.8 per cent of collections were undertaken without residents having cause to complain.”