New bin routes are rubbished

Unemptied bins at Lurgantarry on Monday evening
Unemptied bins at Lurgantarry on Monday evening

CRAIGAVON Council has had to ‘tinker’ with the new bin routes as it admitted that 10 per cent of runs are not working.

Residents on at least one major housing estate in Lurgan were left confused after leaving their bins out on the new bin collection day but no refuse was taken away.

The council said 90 per cent of the runs were working as planned since the new routes came into operation four weeks ago.

“However, as with any new system there have been a few teething issues,” said a council spokesperson.

Indeed complaints have been received about unemptied bins across the borough.

The Mail was contacted this week by a number of residents who had not had their bins emptied in the Lurgantarry and Carrigart areas.

There were also unconfirmed reports of residents in rural areas watching bin lorries drive by and collect rubbish across the road from their homes but they were left with their fortnightly rubbish uncollected.

One Lurgantarry resident said the system has failed.

He said: “With bins sitting out 28 hours before they were emptied, will the council send out street cleaners after animals rip open bags etc from overflowing bins?”

“It seems this new system has failed on a high level with many streets in north Lurgan not having there bins emptied. Is the new route too big for council staff to complete?”

The Mail spoke to a press officer at a meeting of Craigavon District Council on Monday night, minutes after receiving a message from concerned residents in Lurgantarry that the bins had not been emptied.

The paper was then informed that the refuse was collected on Tuesday morning.

The change of date for bin collection has not only confused some residents but caused furore between Craigavon Council and the GMB Union.

The Union and officers had reached a negotiated settlement after members had expressed concerns about the new route and that there had not been an adequate health and safety assessment.

There was concern that the new ‘route optimisation’ had not been adequately thought through before being implemented.

GMB also raised issues about new working arrangements but this issued had been negotiated and an agreement reached with management.

However councillors at Craigavon Council rejected the agreement between management and the union and the GMB threatened to strike.

The strike was due to begin on the Bin Change Day however it failed to materialise.

When quizzed by DUP Cllr Mark Baxter, the Director of Environmental Services Lorraine Crawford said: “With every new system there are problems.” She added that the council were ‘tinkering with the routes’.

A council spokesperson said: “In the four weeks since the change of bin day collection, 90 per cent of the runs are working as planned. However, as with any new system there have been a few teething issues with bins being collected either later in the day or the following day. As local knowledge on such routes is key, we are now making changes to those routes with the assistance of staff. Crews and management are still going through familiarisation of new routes with crew training sessions still taking place.

“There has been some concern with the beneficial assisted lifts – where crews actually bring the bins to the kerbside and return them when emptied. This is due to the fact that council is carrying out significantly more assisted lifts than we have supporting documentation for. An officer has now been tasked with addressing this issue and this being resolved by the end of April.

“The changes to the brown bin system is scheduled for May 2013 and there will be further information going to those households affected.”