Baffled residents slam waste award
Council wins for troubled bins shake-up scheme
Householders have reacted angrily to the news that Stirling Council won two national award for their efforts in changing their waste collection system.
Waste service staff picked up the best team prize at the CoSLA Excellence Awards last week.
Team members also received a silver award in the delivering better services category.
The council introduced a new waste disposal set-up 12 months ago, giving homes another two wheelie bins in a bid to save money, meet targets for the amount of rubbish going to landfill and increase recycling.
A total of 80,000 new bins were distributed to around 40,000 households as the scheme began in autumn last year.
However, numerous complaints were received by the Observer over the efforts the council made to consult and later publicise the new set-up.
And the roll-out was dogged by delays in the distribution of new bins, grumbling over bins not being emptied at the right time and uncertainty, both about when bins should be put out and when the new set-up would kick in.
The system was also introduced without the new vehicles required, even though the scheme had been in the planning stage for 18 months .
Nor did the council have agreement with unions on the seven-day working arrangement considered vital if the set-up was to work properly.
Before agreement was finally reached council chiefs had to pay bin staff overtime to make sure all the bins were uplifted.
One senior manger, quoted by a councillor, infuriated unions when he blamed staff for not cooperating with the new way of working.
SNP group leader Scott Farmer, who attended the award ceremony on Thursday, said in October last year “conflicting messages” over the roll-out had “caused chaos in our communities and reputational damage to the council”.
And this week householders have reacted angrily to what many say is poor communication from the council over changes to the frequency with which glass is collected.
Despite the problems associated with the roll-out, judges were impressed by the way the Stirling waste team “embarked upon an ambitious transformational change journey to modernise the way Stirling Council works to deliver first-class services for its citizens”.
Correspondents on the Observer’s Facebook page were quick to dub the award a joke and one reader accused the judges of being on another planet.
Dunblane Community Council chairman Terence O’Byrne said: “After more than a year we are still not getting all our bins lifted on the appointed day (Monday).
“The situation has certainly improved but we are still receiving excuses for the bins not being lifted. We are told they are going to carry out a review of the service and they need to get on with it.”
Mr O’Byrne was also critical of the consultation process, adding: “It was drawn-out with very little information forthcoming and no one knew what was happening until it happened.”
The council’s environment and housing convener Jim Thomson said their aim is to continue to modernise the service.
Conservative group leader Neil Benny, who was deputy council leader when the waste scheme was introduced by the then controlling LabourTory coalition, said: “A radical change in the way the council collected waste had to be implemented and the team which delivered that change deserved to be recognised at these awards.
“I know it was not without problems but the officers’ commitment and dedication were second to none.”
To comment on this story email john.rowbotham@ trinitymirror.com or write to the Observer at 34 Upper Craigs, Stirling, FK8 2DW.
Celebration Scott Farmer and Jim Thomson with host Jackie Bird and thewinning team