City’s bins service still ‘in a mess’ But boss defends changes as new shifts start in earnest
BIRMINGHAM’S bins boss has defended the service amid a performance slump, saying the council has to cope with 1,000 tonnes of waste every day.
Cabinet member Councillor Majid Mahmood admitted missed collections had increased since controversial changes after the bins strike were implemented on September 24.
But he said the council had now reached a “significant milestone” and vowed performance was improving.
Last week the resources committee was told the service was facing a £5.5 million black hole this year, in part due to a six-month delay costing £1.8 million in implementing the service changes agreed between the council and unions.
The move was a key feature of the agreement between the council and union Unite to end the strike misery in 2017.
Another £1.6 million is still owed to external contractors who were required during the lengthy industrial action.
Cllr Mahmood (Lab, Bromford and Hodge Hill) said that, as of this week, all staff and depots have moved to the new five-day working model from the previous structure which ran over four days with longer shifts.
The new waste and recycling col- lection officers have also assumed their duties while the crews have been equipped with new devices.
Cllr Mahmood said disruption in recent weeks was partly down to staff getting used to their new routes, adding: “As a result of the roll-out, our collection rate has dropped slightly from the 99.86 per cent we achieve during business as usual... but we are getting back up to the rate we had before the changes came in.
“And I want to make it clear that we are committed to this new operating model and making it work, but
it is really important to understand the scale of this transformation and modernisation.”
He said the council collects waste from 360,000 homes every week, double the amount of other major cities like Manchester and Bristol.
He said: “On a typical day we collect 1,000 tonnes of waste. A quick Google suggests this is equivalent to the weight of 250 hippopotamuses or, in ten days of collecting, we pick up waste that weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower.
“The figures are other council has a size and scale we do.”
But opposition councillors claimed the new arrangements, which also include shorter shift times and revised routes, have led to an increase in complaints about missed collections.
Cllr Paul Tilsley (Lib Dem, Sheldon) said: “It has been left in an absolute mess. The new working
The new working model has been introduced and it is not going well
staggering. No service on the model has been introduced and it is not going well.
“I think there has been rebelling taking place in the ranks judging by the complaints.
“We have had waste which hasn’t been collected for four weeks. This is unacceptable. I don’t think we can gloss over it.”
He calculated the service needs to make savings of £250,000 a week to recoup the money lost, adding: “I am very concerned that council tax payers are going to pay for a bad political decision.”
Councillor Paul Tilsley, left