EDINBURGH’S bin collection service had been branded a “disgrace” after complaints rocketed by a third in a year.
Damning photos show the sheer scale of the problem at a time when tens of thousands of tourists throng the streets during the Festival season.
The council’s 24-hour complaints service was inundated with 53,862 complaints about missed or overflowing bin collections between July 2015 and July this year – an average of one every ten minutes.
In contrast, complaints stood at just 40,309 in the same period a year earlier.
Edinburgh Green leader Councillor Steve Burgess called the problem “staggering”.
He added: “And that is only the tip of the iceberg. For every complaint made there are bins which just go uncollected as residents resign themselves to another missed day.
“Over the last three years we have been told that missed collections were a result of a new service bedding in. Well, the service has been changed for a while now, and the fact that missed collections are still increasing so dramatically is simply not good enough.
“Leaving aside the obvious problems of street litter and smell, there is a longer-term problem. The city urgently needs residents to play their part in reducing waste, recycling more and driving down rubbish being sent to landfill. It is much harder to persuade residents to do that when the basic service is not even working.”
The Evening News has been inundated with readers’ snaps showing the state of bins across the Capital – from Leith to the New Town to Morningside.
As well as concerns over mess, vermin and health and safety, many complaints centred on the stench caused by overflowing rubbish.
Cllr Iain Whyte, who represents Inverleith, recently had to wait a week for the city to sort out an overturned bin on Royston Terrace. He added: “It’s definitely a problem, and to me it’s a core service the council provides. To not get that right is a shocking failure.”
Cllr Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, admitted the current level of complaints was “unacceptable”.
She said: “We are well aware how important an issue refuse collection is and the council is committed to delivering an efficient service for the people of Edinburgh – we’re always working to make significant improvements to the service.
“I have also instructed the head of environment to come forward with an action plan. The current level of complaints is unacceptable but, that said, this figure only accounts for less than 0.2 per cent of our collections, which have increased significantly due to the expansion of recycling services over recent years.
“We’re now at a point where we’re recycling almost 45 per cent of our waste, despite a challenging budget, and are making improvements to kerbside recycling, communal bins and trade waste, which is further contributing to this.
“The figures do need to be treated with a degree of caution as the same complaint may be reported several times by different people, and not all complaints are due to a failure by the council.”