Residents trying to avoid paying the new garden waste collection charge refused because leaves they had to clear from their properties came from “council-owned” trees.
Midlothian Council introduced a £35 annual fee for collecting the brown waste bins in March this year and saw almost half of eligible households subscribe to the service.
A review of the seasonal uplift since its introduction reveals that the amount of garden waste collected fell by 27 per cent, while the amount taken to recycling centres is up by 40 per cent.
However, it revealed staff had to deal with hundreds of calls complaining about the introduction of the charge and the service provided.
Among complaints were 411 about bins being missed on rounds, 58 about the online payment method, seven about a lack of concession rate and 12 about the charge itself. The review, which will be presented to councillors next week, also revealed there were 100 uncategorised complaints about the new charge. It says: “These mainly related to the time taken to remove unwanted bins but also included those who did not wish to pay for the service as leaves fell into their property from council-owned trees.”
The review reveals the new service has delivered £591,000 in budget savings for the local authority when the charges, costs and savings it created are added up. Up to September 30, 189,798 separate collections had been made, making the number of incidents when a bin was missed just 0.3 per cent.
The last uplifts of garden waste in Midlothian will take place over the next two weeks, with the 2020 service starting again on March 16.
Council officers are recommending the charge remains at £35 for the upcoming year.