Council: Not enough lorries to cope with overflowing bins

Overflowing bins on Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh
Overflowing bins on Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh
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EDINBURGH City Council doesn’t have enough bin lorries to collect all of the city’s waste on time, according to a top officer.

Councillors on the South West Locality Committee quizzed officers about waste collections in their part of the Capital.

In April there were 267 fly tipping complaints in the south west of Edinburgh, 88 for dog fouling and 106 for litter. Complaints that bins were full or overflowing increased from just two in April 2017 to 15 in April 2018.

Andy Williams, waste and cleansing service manager for the city council, was asked by Conservative Cllr Graeme Bruce why there had been such an increase.

He said the service’s biggest challenge was the availability of vehicles, explaining: “Over the years, we’ve made a number of savings in the service so we’ve reduced the number of spare vehicles that we have got. At the moment it occurs that if we have a vehicle that goes off for planned servicing, which should routinely take around three to four hours, if something else is found deficient with the vehicle, then the vehicle is then off for a longer period of time.

“We don’t necessarily have the spare allocation that we once had to be able to deploy a vehicle straight onto that route to enable us to still provide that collection schedule that should be set out.”

Cllr Bruce added: “So what you’re saying here is you don’t really have the amount of vehicles required to do this job.”

Mr Williams said: “Effectively, yes.”

Labour Cllr Scott Arthur said: “We should not forget that waste collection is a statutory service because it is 
fundamental to protecting human health. It is therefore alarming to hear that Scottish Government cuts mean we don’t actually have sufficient vehicles to run this service. Nonetheless, the council must ensure that this service has the resources needed to empty both domestic and litter bins on time.”

The council has received 139,262 complaints for missed bin collections over the last three financial years. After the meeting, Cllr Bruce said the service was not good enough.

He said: “The council likes to claim it has broken the back of the problems plaguing our waste collection service. But this shortage of vehicles again shows that the council is delivering a level of service below what taxpayers should expect.”

Green Environment spokesperson, Cllr Steve Burgess, said: “It’s no secret that one of the problems the waste service has faced in recent years has been the number of available vehicles, alongside problems of vehicle breakdown and availability of drivers. The new shift patterns seem to mean that even if one vehicle is down it impacts on the service.

“What we need is to invest properly in a modern fleet with enough vehicles for a growing city like Edinburgh. But, importantly, the city needs to get much more serious about waste prevention and waste reduction to tackle the pressures on the service.”

A council spokesperson said: “We always endeavour to return vehicles into operation as quickly as possible.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com