BIN MEN have stopped collecting thousands of wheelie bins with open lids after being told to “use their discretion” as part of a new crackdown on rubbish.
Furious residents have reported bins across the city being left unemptied after bin men judged them to be “overflowing” – with many saying the lids had only been open a fraction on an inch.
The council said it had asked bin men in the past fortnight to start enforcing the tough measures previously applied to weekly collections. It is understood that 3.5 per cent of the 75,000 bins collected by the council are affected – meaning more than 2500 bins are not being collected.
The change, coming after a period of relaxed restrictions to coincide with the introduction of fortnightly pick-ups, means bins with lids sitting wide open due to excess rubbish will not be collected. Warning letters are being issued in the first instance, with inspectors told to use £50 fines as a last resort to target repeat offenders.
Extra bags left next to wheelie bins are also not being collected.
The stance has coincided with a series of complaints from residents across Edinburgh in areas such as Broomhouse, Parkhead, Colinton and Kings-knowe of rubbish mounting in the streets, and rats, birds and other animals feeding on the contents of black bags.
Broomhouse Grove resident David Fox claimed bins had not been picked up in his street in cases where lids had been left only slightly open. The 58-year-old said some householders had not even been issued with a warning: “There are bins in our street that are lying slightly open and they’ve never been uplifted, so that’s going to lie there for another fortnight.
“The rubbish is actually piling up now – we don’t know how long it’s going to lie there for. A lot of people where we live have large families and they don’t have big bins. I’ve seen a couple of rats so far.
“It’s turning into a ghetto with all the rubbish. It’s not just our streets, it’s other streets in our area as well. I think it’s just a damn disgrace.”
Mr Fox said he had resorted to making regular car trips to the council depot because he couldn’t fit his rubbish in his green bin each fortnight.
A resident from Redhall Place, Kingsknowe, wrote to say her green bin had also not been collected because the lid was ajar.
She said: “I find this an utter disgrace especially after they have cut the service.”
The latest unrest follows problems in September last year when the council moved to fortnightly collections of green bins for general household waste. City environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said bin men had been told to “use their discretion”.
She said: “If the bin is just slightly open and it’s not dangerous, then they should lift it. I’ve had clarification of that this week.
“If there are individual issues like that, I’d be happy to take them up. But obviously if you’ve got a bin that you’d call top-hatted, which is [filled] right up to the top and then the lid is protruding extremely high, that as you can imagine can be dangerous for the person who is lifting that and trying to get it on to the lorry.
“The bins are designed so that the lid is flat. There have been incidents in the past when bins have been that full that they wouldn’t lift them because they’re dangerous.”
Tory councillor Jason Rust said he had received several direct complaints from residents along Colinton Mains Road.
He said: “There’s not been a lot of pro-active publicity from the council about the change, so I think many people will be caught unawares by this policy now suddenly being enforced.”
Colin Keir, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western, said: “This whole thing is silly. Common sense needs to come into play. If a lid is only two inches up and the bin isn’t picked up then I think that’s unacceptable – it’s wrong.”
Green environment spokesman Chas Booth said the council could be doing more to encourage recycling.
He said: “The council should be using a lot more carrot and a lot less stick. They need to give time for the carrot – the incentives – to work first before they start penalising people.”
Cllr Hinds added: “It is a long-standing policy that side waste and overflowing bins will not be picked up. Monitoring of waste pick-ups show that only 3.5 per cent of bins are not being presented properly. This is an indication that the vast majority of residents are recycling, which is fantastic.”
11,000 complaints at service
NEARLY 11,000 complaints were received by Edinburgh City Council within weeks of introducing the contentious fortnightly bin collections in September last year.
Weekly uplifts were axed to save cash and encourage residents in Edinburgh to recycle packaging.
But complaints steadily mounted as bins in areas including Murrayfield, Granton and Leith were left unemptied for up to six weeks.
Figures obtained by a freedom of information request showed there had been 40 reported incidents of abuse against crews during the backlog period.
Environment chiefs were left embarrassed last month when it emerged the switch had coincided with a slump in recycling and more rubbish being sent to landfill.