John McLellan: Garden bin service is completely rubbish

The brown garden bin has been sitting outside on the street for over a week now, my £25 investment in improving the city's services yet to deliver a return. My public-spirited neighbour stumped up £50 for two. But wait, we are part of a 'brown bin boost' according to the latest bulletin from our dear leader Adam McVey.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 6:00 am
Householders have registered more than 70,000 brown garden bins at a cost of £25 a time. Picture: Jane Barlow

“We’ve seen some big changes to bin collections across the city over recent weeks,” he writes, and he’s not wrong, except the big change is we’re paying more money and have even less guarantee the things will be emptied.

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“Householders have now registered a total of 70,747 brown bins for the new, improved service,” he tells us. Well woo-hoo. Yes, that’s right, the same administration which banned A-boards from outside restaurants to make the streets safer is now telling us that 70,000 bins blocking pavements for days on end is an improved service.

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But don’t worry if you missed the chance not to have your bin emptied because there will be another chance to give the council £25 for hee-haw in February. Form an orderly queue now...

The report also tells us how tough it will be for the council to save £28m this year, which “will require tough choices”.

But the next section describes how the council is recruiting three “futurists” to be sent to Dublin, Copenhagen and Helsinki to find out how they should be running Edinburgh. Must have been tough deciding that was a good use of public money.

Even further down the line

The postponement of the Newhaven tram completion project is being spun as getting things right, a “thorough and robust process” in which “crucial lessons have been learnt” but there is no getting away from the fact that a project cursed by delay after delay has been delayed once again.

The final decision to proceed will not now be taken by the end of the year but kicked into spring to “clarify” contract tender details. This means there is little chance of the £165 million line being open in time for the next council election and an increasing likelihood the roads will still be up by the time the polls open in 2022.

Even ardent tram supporters must wonder how it can take more than five years to finish a three-mile line for which a large part of the work has already been done.

Stumped by a PR nightmare

Even if it’s to provide better access to the National Gallery, even if the trees will be replaced, even if the views down the Waverley Valley will eventually be better… chopping down the trees in Princes Street Gardens has been another council public relations disaster.

Yes, it was a unanimous vote at the planning committee, but like the problems with the Meadowbank consultation, the handling of the project or lack of it, has reinforced the perception of the council administration as an organisation which doesn’t give two hoots about what people think. Perception in this business is reality.

Criticism via the cash route

Scotrail was fined £2.2m in the first half of the year, with particular criticism over toilets, train cleanliness and station litter. Imagine, then, if a similar regime existed for all public organisations responsible for hygiene and litter collection. The council? August alone would bankrupt the city.But there is a serious point in that too many service organisations, particularly the utilities, treat public inconveniences lightly and perhaps they need more “incentives”, backed up by proof the impact is not borne by customers.