New Town residents angry over plans for communal bin hubs on neighbourhood streets

New Town residents are once again revolting over plans to introduce ‘ugly, intrusive’ communal bins that are commonplace elsewhere in the Capital.

Communal street bins in the New Town are proving controversial once more. Picture: JPIMedia
Communal street bins in the New Town are proving controversial once more. Picture: JPIMedia

In April, councillors approved moving city centre and Inverleith neighbourhood bin collections to ‘on-street communal bins’ – rather than the individual collection of gull-proof bags currently in place.

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These properties in the city centre and Inverleith also have individual recycling boxes, for mixed recycling (red) and glass/small electrical items (blue), as do some properties that use on-street bins for non-recyclable waste.

Other properties across Edinburgh use black bags for non-recyclable waste and the recycling box service.

A report, produced by council officers back in April, reads: “Reusable gull-proof bags have been used for properties in parts of the city centre and Inverleith wards since 2011 to dispose of non-recyclable waste at the kerbside.

“These properties present (red and blue) boxes separately at the kerbside for recycling.

“The monitoring report shows medium to low presentation rates for both GPBs and recycling boxes.

“Lower GPBs presentation rates are generally associated with proximity to on-street communal bins which can cause overflowing waste issues at these locations.

“In some cases, residents appear to be using the communal bins instead of their GPBs and recycling services.

“The conclusion of the monitoring review is the recommendation that GPBs and the kerbside recycling box scheme are replaced with on-street communal bins, as part of fully integrated waste and recycling ‘hubs’, following the previously agreed standardised parameters.”

The majority of councillors sitting on the transport and environment committee agreed, and subsequently voted to implement the changes by seven votes to four.

However, residents had been led to believe the council had backed down, until recently, when the council wrote to residents informing them the changes were imminent.

Now, New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) is organising a letter writing campaign against the new communal bins, calling on residents to write to local politicians such as Edinburgh North and Leith MP Deidre Brock, Edinburgh Central MSP Angus Robertson and Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson.

A statement from NTBCC and the New Town Residents’ Associations reads: “It is wrong to clutter the New Town with ugly, intrusive bin hubs, the Edinburgh World Heritage Site will be permanently damaged, bin hubs will attract fly-tipping and encourage poor recycling habits, [and] bin hubs will take up scarce parking spaces.

“Edinburgh City Council claims bin hubs will improve services, [claiming] no one will walk more than 50m to deposit rubbish; but doorstep collection is more convenient.

“[The council claims it will] improve recycling volumes and remove recycling barriers; but evidence for this is weak.

“[The council claims it will] enhance streetscape and improve the public realm; but this is not true – bin hubs will damage the New Town streetscape.

“The character of the New Town should not be needlessly damaged with widespread, inappropriate street clutter.

“Recycling can and should be increased by improvements to existing services.

“To safeguard the outstanding streetscape of the World Heritage Site, current refuse collection methods must continue until a better system is developed.”

Inverleith councillor Gavin Barrie, Edinburgh Party of Independent Councillors (EPIC), said: “The major issue here is that residents deserve to be consulted when changes are going to take place in the areas where they live.

“It should not be ‘game set and match, this is what we’re doing to you’; the council should be doing things for people, not to them.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh City Council said there are no figures on the number of potential lost car parking spaces as the locations of each of the bin hubs is still to be determined.

Councillor Karen Doran, Environment Vice Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We are carrying out engagement in the affected areas across the city ahead of the communal bin hubs roll out so residents are aware of our plans.

“We are holding additional meetings with community councils in the New Town and working with Edinburgh World Heritage to minimise any impact by taking into account the unique heritage of the area.

“There are numerous benefits to having these bin hubs at the same location – it makes recycling easier and more accessible as they’re in the same place as non-recyclable waste so removing barriers from residents recycling.

“This also supports our targets to increase the city’s recycling performance and meet our ambitious zero waste goals.

“In addition the hubs provide increased capacity, a more reliable service and reduces overflowing bins and street clutter, as well as making our waste and recycling operations safer for our staff.

“Bringing the different bin facilities into one location will help minimise any impact on parking spaces.”

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