City’s bins ser­vice still ‘in a mess’ But boss de­fends changes as new shifts start in earnest

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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

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