Leader: ‘Flexibility has to be the guiding principle’

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SOME parts of the mess which has been made of bin collections over the past couple of weeks are hard to understand.

Most puzzling of all to the outside eye is one simple question – how can picking up rubbish fortnightly be harder than doing it once a week?

Neither is it clear why changing staff shift patterns should lead to entire streets being missed. Isn’t arming someone with a street map enough to allow them to find their way?

Of course in practice changes on the scale that are being introduced in Edinburgh right now are never without their hitches. But things could have been managed better.

People who pay an average £1150 in council tax a year quite reasonably expect to have their bins emptied more than once in three weeks. And finding a ticket slapped on your bin warning you about over-filling it just as you are getting used to getting it emptied half as often as before is adding insult to injury.

The changeover has been mismanaged, but does it mean that the whole idea of fortnightly collections is flawed?

The experience across large parts of the UK is that such a system can work perfectly well. There will be those for whom the loss of weekly collections poses a serious problem, but the council has promised to be flexible.

We need to find ways of recycling more in Edinburgh and fortnightly collections seem likely to do that – as well as saving us money.

That flexibility is key – and it has to be the guiding principle to make the new regime a success.

Householders struggling to adapt must be given plenty of time and every support. Fines must be the last resort. They can only be used against people who wilfully refuse to even try to work with the system.

The idea of the council building up a database of “offending” home owners who are over-filling their bins will worry many simply struggling to adapt. They must not be targeted with strong-arm tactics or the whole system will be tarnished.