We’ll clear up the bins backlog vows council

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A promise to clear up bulging bin bags and put an end to fortnightly waste collection ‘teething problems’ was last night issued by Harrogate Council, as the authority insisted the situation is far from chaotic.

Furious residents have contacted the Harrogate Advertiser, demanding to know why rubbish has not been removed regularly since their wheelie bins were first introduced last month and their collection was switched to fortnightly. Householders with walls of black bags stacked in their gardens have criticised the council for not dealing with the issues quickly enough.

Coun Cliff Trotter who has raised the issue with the council said he had received scores of complaints from angry householders including residents in Starbeck, Bilton and Knaresborough.

But Cabinet Member for the Environment Phil Ireland insists his authority is working flat out to address concerns.

Knaresborough Coun Ireland said: “We have now delivered these alternate collection bins to 64,000 householders in the district. We are not being complacent but some will be missed and we apologise for that.

“Residents want and rightly deserve to have their waste and recycling collected on a regular basis, and that is what I am committed to.

“Phase one of the roll out was more than a year ago. It is now fully bedded in, and we don’t have any ongoing problems with that system.

“We are speaking to those who aren’t happy with the collection service.”

Cheltenham Mount resident Colin Hodgson contacted the newsdesk this week to say he and his neighbours were struggling, as unemptied bins meant they were storing bags in their back gardens.

Colin, who has sons aged 12 and 10, said: “We haven’t had the bins collected for four straight weeks now, and there are 35 bin bags piled up in my garden, and it isn’t just my house.

“We have back gardens, so we can keep them there but it is a mess.

“The bags are attracting swarms of flies, it is unbelievable. I have two kids, and the situation is just intolerable.”

Coun Ireland confirmed the council will respond to those with black bags propped up against their homes.

He said: “The amount of slippage in collection is in single figures in terms of percentage, and we are on top of it.

“We don’t expect residents to sit looking at rubbish in black bags for long periods of time.

“As soon as we find out about waste that has not been moved it will be collected as soon as is practically possible.

“We are resolving the situation as well as we can, as quickly as we can. There is a bedding in period for any project, and the regular period is three collections, which is six weeks.

“There is no chaos. Everything will be resolved as soon as possible.”

Stray Coun Cliff Trotter was at Coun Ireland’s fortnightly Environment meeting on Wednesday where the latest issues were discussed. He said: “I have never seen anything like it. I have never had so many emails, calls and letters about any issue, I have never seen so many cross people.

“We have got to get it sorted out. Bin collection is a service we must get right.”

Others across the town cannot understand why the pick up point of their bins has changed along with the new system.

Starbeck man Bill Osborne wrote: “Waste I am told must be collected from the kerbside at the front of the house, as I choose not to litter my front garden with an unsightly clutter bins, boxes and bags the only alternative I have is to put them at the rear of the house which will entail on collection days pulling my bin along the whole length of ten houses and back again.

“As I am a pensioner with a heart complaint I don’t think this is going to happen; as plastic bags are no longer accepted I am at present taking my waste to a friends house in another part of the town.

“I fail to see why in my case the point of collection has been changed to the detriment of myself and my neighbours, especially when the wheelie bins for garden waste were originally collected from the rear service road.”

Coun Ireland said: “There will be a post implementation review, and wherever feasible where we can get a lorry down the street and there are no blockages, we will be looking at reinstating rear collections.”

Last week, we revealed that bins on Russell Street, Harrogate, and King Street, Pateley Bridge had been left unemptied for up to three weeks. Since appearing in the newspaper, the bins have been collected.

Coun Ireland pointed out that since phase one was rolled out, the council has collected 5.8 per cent less waste that becomes landfill, and dry recycling has increased by 23.4 per cent.

He added: “I want to thank residents for participating and engaging with the new system.”

The new system was adopted when Harrogate slumped to the foot of the 2011-12 recycling league table of English councils, listed 342nd out of 352 authorities.

Harrogate’s recycling rate that year stood at just 15.90 per cent.