‘Enough is enough’ warns Edinburgh Council boss over bins issue

Transport and Environment Convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes
Transport and Environment Convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes
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EDINBURGH City Council’s environment convener has demanded officials ensure bin collections get back on track “straight away” – with an action plan launched to improve the “rubbish” service.

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, is adamant that the service must improve for residents after officers were inundated with thousands of complaints over missed collections when new four-day rotas were rolled out in October. Despite some progress before Christmas, the expected festive increase in waste saw complaint levels rise to the same levels experienced at the height of the problems – put down in part to staff shortages.

Refuge collection. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Refuge collection. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Last week, the council 
received 1,545 complaints – a 40 per cent reduction on the previous week when 2,520 were tallied up. Before the new service was rolled out in October, the council received around 800 complaints each week.

Following “fairly strong crunch talks” with top officers and what is believed to be “quite robust management actions”, the SNP councillor has launched an action plan for improvement and will be relying on officers to implement the changes effectively.

Cllr Macinnes said: “The time has come to say enough is enough – residents deserve a far better quality of service than this. Of course I’ve been working with officers over recent months to address issues but it’s clear that significant 
changes need to be made to move the service forward and to get collections back on track.

“To this end I’ve issued precise instructions to officers and have advised, in no uncertain terms, that improvements need to be made straight away. As a result of swift action from the department I’m pleased to see complaints begin to drop significantly but this is not enough – I expect to see sustained, consistent efforts to produce a reliable service for Edinburgh residents.”

She added: “I fully recognise the fact that residents are right to be unhappy. We know it’s been a bit rubbish – it’s not good.

“I sit firmly on the side of the Edinburgh residents on this. We are concentrating on 
reaching a stage where those concerns can subside.”

Proposals to improve the service include responding to missed collections on the same day instead of being added to a backlog. A review of festive collections will also help prepare the council for next year.

The council insists the problems with waste collections are “complex”. As well as problems with the Routesmart technology, people parking cars next to communal bins, waste being contaminated or trade waste dumped in communal bins and residents putting bins out on the wrong day for collection hamper the service.

Cllr Macinnes added: “I’m really sorry that it has reached this stage for Edinburgh residents. They expect a service and they should get it and we are working hard to try and deliver that standard of service.

“I’ve made it quite crystal clear that the service that we have been delivering to the public has not been acceptable.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com