EDINBURGH residents whose garden waste bins have not been collected on time should be given their money back, under proposals by an opposition councillor.
The city council launched a new garden waste scheme last month which allowed residents to sign up for an annual fee of £25 for green rubbish to be collected, coinciding with a roll-out of a new four-day kerbside collection rota. But the changes saw council officers flooded with more than 8,000 complaints over missed collections in the space of five weeks with councillors reporting entire streets where bins had been missed.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang has tabled a motion for Thursday’s full council meeting, which if given the thumbs up by councillors, would propose introducing a refund scheme for people who have paid the annual charge but do not get a proper level of service.
The current terms and conditions for the new charge makes clear that the council “does not give refunds for missed collections” – meaning customers currently have no means to get their money back. Cllr Lang said: “The people of Edinburgh are being short changed on garden waste collection.
“This new annual charge was forced upon residents by SNP and Labour councillors who made no mention of it before the council elections. They promised the charge would lead to a better and more frequent service.
“Instead, many have ended up paying more but getting a worse service than before.
“It is a basic and fair principle that if you pay for something and do not get the service in return, you should be eligible for a refund. Why should that principle not apply to the garden tax? Exactly how bad does the service get before people are entitled to some or all of their money back?”
It comes after weeks of problems, labelled “chaos” by Cllr Lang – with reports some residents have gone up to seven weeks without a collection.
In the first five weeks of the new scheme, the council has tallied up a total of 1,635 complaints over the paid-for garden waste service.
Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “There have been some delays to garden waste collections since the new service was introduced, as we adjust to complex changes to routes, and we apologise to residents for any inconvenience caused. We are working hard to rectify any issues and will collect any missed bins as quickly as possible.”
Cllr Lang’s motion requests a report to the council’s finance and resources committee, setting out the options to introduce a refund scheme for those who have paid the charge but where the “service provided falls below a certain minimum standard”.