CITY residents face another two weeks of “chaos” over missed bin collections as council officers revealed they have resorted to “harsh management” with staff after being flooded with thousands of complaints.
The city council introduced a four-day waste system on October 8, with many residents seeing changes to their collection day.
Complaints about missed collections rose from an average of 400 a week to 1,089 in the first seven days of the new system and then doubled to 2,135 the following week. Complaints have reduced slightly but council officers have been met with more than 8,000 since the launch.
Officers heard how some residents have waited up to seven weeks for bins to be collected and an elderly man was forced to “hobble out of his home and shout after the bin men”.
Waste cleansing manager Andy Williams and operations manager Keith Martin were sent out to stand up for the “teething problems” at the council’s north west locality committee meeting.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang said: “I have got one constituent in South Queensferry who, despite repeated complaints, has now gone six weeks without a landfill bin collection. I’ve got several constituents in Silverknowes who have gone seven weeks without a landfill collection.
“I would understand this maybe if this new system had been foisted upon officials with maybe two or three weeks planning. There were months of planning available for this and we have seen chaos in terms of our waste collection system.”
Mr Williams confirmed that the council wanted to “move away from reporting on numbers of missed bins” and confirmed the new devices in waste vehicles were a “huge step forward”.
In June, Mr Williams revealed that the council did not have enough vehicles to collect all waste on time – but officers said they now have enough vehicles and are fully staffed.
Mr Martin said: “We have taken pretty radical steps for staff in terms of upping the ante as far as the management team is concerned. We have changed staff about, we have changed routines to improve the service. We have let staff know that we have an obligation to pick up bins on the day.
“Slowly but surely, we are seeing the improvements coming through. It takes harsh management at times but we are now in a position where I hope we are turning a corner with the equipment that we have.”
Conservative group leader Cllr Iain Whyte raised the problems faced by an elderly gentleman who walks with a stick who’s bins were not picked up last week, despite being signed up for an assisted collection.
Cllr Whyte said: “This week he’s having to hobble out of his home and shout after the bin men to get them to come and collect his grey bin.”
Officers confirmed that some assisted collections had not been on the drivers’ system.
Mr Williams added: “Our target is to see a pronounced drop over the remainder of this week and a further drop the following week after. We will be back to pre ‘go live’ levels within a fortnight.”