Private firm called in to clear bins backlog

Overflowing bins in Gorgie
Overflowing bins in Gorgie
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A PRIVATE firm has been drafted in to clear the backlog of thousands of unemptied bins around the Capital following the move to fortnightly collections, the Evening News can reveal.

Supply workers from recruitment agency Blue Arrow are now being paid to help to remove rubbish which has piled up since once-a-week bin collections were scaled back earlier this month.

The news comes as the city missed its own Sunday night deadline to clear the backlog and admitted the chaos had now spread to communal uplifts.

Despite setting a target to clear the waste, overflowing green bins are still visible across the city with complaints being recorded in Murrayfield, South Queensferry and Fairmilehead. Residents of Leith Links Colonies recently told how they had waited four weeks between uplifts.

Cllr Jeremy Balfour, who represents Murrayfield – believed to be one of the worst hit areas – condemned the city’s handling of the debacle and called for a “renegotiation of the whole scheme”.

He said: “Lesley Hinds offered personal assurances during the full council meeting last week that the backlog would be cleared by Sunday night but I’ve had calls from numerous residents complaining about unemptied bins.

“Clearly the administration cannot get to grips with the new scheme. There has been a clear lack of leadership and a failure to deliver on their 
promises. The people of Edinburgh deserve an apology.”

The Tory councillor also said the council should have privatised some services through the Alternative Business Model (ABM) – which would have affected refuse collection, street cleaning and ground maintenance – when it “had the chance”.

Councillor Balfour added: “We are now in the situation where we are having to pay a private firm to do the work at greater cost.”

Reports have also been made of street cleaners being deployed to clear up mess left following bin collections.

Graham Stewart, 49, said he was “disgusted” to find waste strewn around his apartment block at Loaning Mills, Restalrig, yesterday.

He said: “At first I was glad they were lifting our communal bins but then they began picking up the side waste – rubbish was falling out everywhere. Instead of picking it up they just jumped in the truck and drove off.”

The new collections have been launched in a bid to force residents to reduce the amount of rubbish being sent to landfill. The council said the problems had been caused by shift patterns for the bin crews changing and residents getting used to the new timetable.

In a statement to the News, Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment convener, said: “Staff are working hard to clear this backlog as quickly as possible and we have brought in additional resources to help.

“These changes are necessary to manage the city’s waste collection more effectively and I would like to thank residents for their patience.”