Refunds considered for Edinburgh residents over ‘shambolic’ garden waste charge

A brown garden bin. Pic: JPIMedia
A brown garden bin. Pic: JPIMedia
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a refund scheme for the controversial garden waste charge is to be considered after thousands were left with missed collections since the new service was rolled out.

The city council launched a new garden waste scheme last month which allowed residents to sign up for an annual fee of £25 for green rubbish to be collected, coinciding with a roll-out of a new four-day kerbside collection rota.

READ MORE: Calls for garden waste refund scheme after bin collection ‘chaos’

But the overhaul saw council officers deluged with more than 8,000 complaints over missed collections in the space of five weeks with councillors reporting entire streets where bins had been missed. Officers said the service should get back to normal by next week after being grilled by members of the north west locality committee.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang tabled a motion to full council yesterday calling for options into allowing residents to get their money back if the service “falls below a certain standard”.

Cllr Lang said: “It was bad enough that such a deeply unpopular policy as the garden tax was forced upon Edinburgh residents by SNP and Labour councillors. However, that situation has been made worse by the failures within the new collection system and the thousands of delayed or missed collections. People have literally ended up paying more for less. It is wholly unfair that, despite these failures, residents are not able to get a partial or full refund for the money they have paid.

“I am now looking forward to that wrong being put right in the near future.”

Conservatives backed the calls for a refund scheme, with Tory transport and environment spokesman labelling the project ” a complete and mitigated disaster”. He added: “The implementation of this tax has been a complete shambles. I have no confidence and very little faith that what comes before the transport and environment committee will lead to a refund scheme.

“This policy has hoodwinked the people of Edinburgh.”

Finance and resources convener Cllr Alasdair Rankin lambasted opposition councillors for labelling the service charge ‘the garden tax’ and called for opponents to “do away with the propaganda”.

Earlier, Conservative group leader Cllr Iain Whyte quizzed council leader Cllr Adam McVey as to whether he still had confidence in his transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, following problems rolling out the council’s new waste collection rotas.

Cllr Whyte said: “Last month the convener of transport and environment apologised for the problems. If anything, it’s getting worse.

“Given all of this and that nothing has been improved, has the leader still got confidence in the convener?”

Cllr McVey backed his SNP colleague and told councillors that missed bin collection complaints had fallen this week.

He said: “Lesley Macinnes is probably the best transport and environment convener we have had in this city.

“On Monday, complaints went down by around a quarter. We are heading in the right direction. We are seeing the service getting back on track, but I’m not happy with the level of performance and neither is the transport and environment convener.”