Baf­fled res­i­dents slam waste award

Coun­cil wins for trou­bled bins shake-up scheme

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - John Row­botham

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@ trin­i­tymir­ 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

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