The council’s environment chief has been forced to apologise after thousands of residents branded a new waste collection system a load of rubbish by flooding City Chambers with thousands of complaints.
Last week, the council was inundated with 1,703 missed collection complaints – with the authority tallying up more than 5,000 calls from angry residents over the space of three weeks. Before the service was changed to a four-day rota, the council received an average of 400 weekly complaints.
Cllr Steve Burgess, Green environment spokesperson, said: “Getting bins emptied on time is one of the most basic jobs of the council, and it’s essential we get that right.
“Delayed or missed bin collections can impact on litter and street cleanliness, and are not acceptable. I’m still getting too many complaints from constituents about bins, so the council must work harder to resolve these and ensure everyone’s waste and recycling gets picked up promptly.”
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, publicly apologised for the problems.
She said: “I don’t think anyone, least of all me, would be happy with the negative impact that some aspects of these collection changes have had on some parts of the city. I welcome this opportunity to apologise directly to those affected.
“When we introduce a change of this magnitude we can expect to see a sharp rise in complaints and screaming headlines followed by a relatively swift revision back to normal levels.
“It’s clear that some residents have been negatively impacted on a temporary basis as we make this complex council-wide set of changes across our entire city – for that, I apologise. Officers are working extremely hard to rectify the situation and it would appear are making significant inroads in doing so.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Louise Young said communities in rural west Edinburgh were being treated as “second class citizens”.
Conservatives have also hit out at the problems – claiming residents have been told to dump any extra waste in communal bins instead. The council said residents with kerbside collections are not being advised to use communal bins.
Conservative transport and environment spokesman, Cllr Nick Cook, spoke out about a constituent who was given such advice after waiting 11 days for a waste collection.
He said: “He raised this matter with the waste department, asking what he should do with the extra waste he had accumulated in those days. His response was ‘sorry we do not pick up excess waste. If you wish, you can take your waste free of charge to a community recycling centre or you can put it into any shared black communal bin within Edinburgh’.
“I don’t think constituents in my ward would find that acceptable. I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
Council leader Cllr Adam McVey said “the member of staff was genuinely trying to be helpful in providing alternatives”.
He added: “I appreciate that not having your bin picked up is a major inconvenience. I completely appreciate that we as a council have to apologise.”