Edinburgh council chiefs blasted over new rota explanation for bin chaos

A bin lorry in the city. Pic: Ian Georgeson
A bin lorry in the city. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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A city councillor has blasted waste officials for claiming bin collection problems were down to new rotas still to “bed in” – almost three months after the four-day schedules were rolled out.

In an update to elected members, Edinburgh City Council’s head of place management, Gareth Barwell, insisted that the new routes were still bedding in, despite being rolled out in October.

More than 8,000 complaints were tallied up in the space of five weeks when the council moved over to a four-day collection rota and rolled out a new garden waste collection scheme at the same time. Since then, complaints have halved as council officials attempt to get to grips with the new service.

Mr Barwell said: “We continue to see week on week improvements in kerbside collections as the new routes bed in.

“In the run up to Christmas, communal collections have been challenging, as is normally the case at this time of year, particularly packaging collections due to increased waste.”

He added: “It is a particularly challenging time for the service in respect of increased waste generation however staff and other resources are in place over the festive period to provide the necessary levels of cover. Moving into 2019, I expect the improving picture on kerbside collections to be sustained once the festive period is finished. The priority for the service will then be to increase activity on the communal bin project.”

Opposition councillors were critical that a new service is still facing teething problems almost three months after being unveiled.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang said: “It is extraordinary that, after three months, we are being told that the new waste collection system is still bedding in.

“After thousands of complaints and missed bin collections, nobody can yet say with any certainty as to when the problems plaguing this new system will finally end. People deserve to know when they will get the service they pay for. It is clear that the SNP/Labour administration running the city desperately needs a New Year’s resolution to focus on getting the basics right.”

Conservative transport and environment spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, has criticised  environment convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes for not tackling the problems.

He said: “The environment convener initially told us bin collection changes would have bedded in within about two weeks. Three months later, these words ring hollow to many residents.

“While the bin collection saga continues on a full time basis, it increasingly appears the council’s embattled transport convener has simply resorted to fleeing the office for the holidays, with an ‘out of office’ message suggesting things can simply be addressed upon her return.”

Residents previously raised concerns about assisted collections being missed while entire streets had been neglected. The new Routesmart system is being reviewed and an investigation is planned into a refund scheme for those who signed up to the new £25 garden waste scheme but were let down by the service.