Edinburgh residents have their say on city’s ‘rubbish’ bin collections

John Hutchison who is not happy about the state of the local bins. Picture: Jon Savage
John Hutchison who is not happy about the state of the local bins. Picture: Jon Savage
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Edinburgh is ranked last out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities for public satisfaction with refuse services. Just 66.3 per cent said they were happy with bin collections in the Capital while the national average is 82 per cent.

The city is also ranked 29th out of 32 for satisfaction on street cleaning, with just 64.7 per cent satisfied with the service here, compared with a national average of 72.3 per cent.

And other statistics from the Local Government Benchmarking Framework 2016/17, comparing the performances of councils across the country, showed Edinburgh faring badly on a range of issues, from satisfaction with road repairs,to the length of time people remain in the homelessness system.

On 36 out of 75 indicators, the Capital was in the lower half of Scottish local authorities.

Tory group leader Iain Whyte accused the SNP-Labour administration of ignoring poor performance.

He told yesterday’s full council meeting: “The SNP seem more concerned with things outwith the council’s control, like talking up independence, and Labour have been in charge of social care and education where they have been asleep at the wheel. We think of Edinburgh as a top capital city - we should have high-performing services across the board.”

The meeting also heard the council had spent nearly £1 million £943,983 on replacing bins over the past three years - a figure which Corstorphine/Murrayfield Tory councillor Scott Douglas called “baffling” when budgets were at breaking point.

He said: “This is a staggering amount to be spent in just three years. Given this huge cost we need to discover why so many bins are needing to be replaced, and what we can do to reduce these figures.”

And fellow Tory Andrew Johnston, who represents Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, said complaints about missed bin collections were now being logged as “service requests” rather than complaints.

He said: “We all know there is a bin issue. I’ve been inundated with complaints in July. But rather than tackle the problem they decided to reclassify it. It’s just massaging the figures.”

Green councillor Chas Booth said the council must do better at carrying out emergency road repairs in 24 hours. “We have failed to meet our target of 90 per cent of defects made safe within 24 hours in every month for the last 12 months.”

And Lib Dem Kevin Lang said the people of Edinburgh deserved an apology.

He said: “These targets are not being missed by a little - in many cases they are being missed by a lot. And these are not small, insignificant, peripheral things. These are services which cut to the very heart of what this council is about and what people expect of us.

The Tories called for a “comprehensive improvement plan” to address the poor performance, but council leader Adam McVey listed eight strategies and improvement plans for different services across the council and claimed the Tories had never proposed alternative ideas.

He said: “This report provides a useful snapshot of where we are and where the challenges are across some key areas.”

But he said some of the statistics were time-lagged and he expected next year’s report to give a more accurate picture of the effect of the current administration’s efforts. We have taken a whole multitude of actions to improve how services work across the organisation.”

Finance convener Alasdair Rankin said the council had saved £240m over the last five years and achieved record figures in collection of council tax.

Ricky Henderson, chair of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, said latest figures on delayed discharge showed a reduction from a peak of 267 in March to 222 by June - “a modest and positive step in the right direction”.

And he said the city’s over-75 emergency admission rate to hospital was among the lowest in Scotland.

Housing and economy convener Kate Campbell told the council homelessness was one of the biggest challenges.

Edinburgh had one of the most expensive housing markets in the country and a growing population, while welfare reform was reducing household incomes and making rents hard to afford.

She said a focus on prevention meant the number of people becoming homeless had fallen, but there was a problem with a lack of permanent homes for people to move on to.

“We have one of the most ambitious house-building programmes in the country, delivering 10,000 affordable homes over the next five year, 20,00 over ten - and these are good quality homes that people want to live in.”

EDINBURGH’S £2.6 million-a-year funding for the police was called into question as one councillor compared it with the roughly equivalent figure given by the council to the Edinburgh International Festival. Labour’s Gordon Munro, who has questioned the police payment before, said the problem was a lack of democratic accountability since the eight former forces covering the country were merged into Police Scotland.

He said: “This council provides a grant of £2.2m to Edinburgh International Festival. It accounts for its spend to its board. They report and account for the report to committee in this council.

“It provides us with an annual report showing its annual spend and accounts for its activities. But just as important it’s felt and seen in the city from Five Telegrams to the Fireworks finale; in Castlebrae and Leith Academy; by our citizens and its visitors. It is a driver of its sister festivals and in turn the Scottish economy making Edinburgh in August the world’s fourth largest ticketed event.

“This accountability is welcome but is noticeably absent in this council’s largesse to Police Scotland, an organisation that has made £38m in cuts last year.”