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Rising costs of Leeds bin chaos EXCLUSIVE

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent on outside contractors in a bid to stop Leeds's bin chaos.

And on Monday binmen are likely to lose 20 a day as they race to make collections possible on their new longer routes.

As the service struggles to empty hundreds of thousands of bins it has been learnt that:

* Part of a 150,000 plan to re-design Leeds rubbish routes has had to be torn up as tens of thousands of bins continue to go unemptied each week;

* Last week 6.6 per cent of the 330,000 black bins were missed – 21,000 homes;

* The council had to almost double the number of agency staff employed in November and December to handle backlogs of missed collections – despite a plan to reduce its dependency on agency staff;

* The council is expected to spend 1.6m on the extra help in 10/11 - 500,000 more than in 2009.

From Monday the new system that has caused chaos for residents across the city will cost binmen 400 a month unless all waste is collected under performance-related pay rules.

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Individual crew members and wagon drivers will forfeit 20 a day if a collection is not completed – unless there is good reason such as snow or a mechanical breakdown.

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Eleven of the city's 51 black bin routes were axed on October 25 in a cost-saving exercise that saw the biggest shake-up of Leeds City Council's refuse department in more than 20 years.

Now two of the scrapped rounds have been revived in a bid to improve collection rates in the inner Ring Road areas that include densely populated suburbs Harehills and Hyde Park, Headingley and Little London.

Expected annual savings are now 2m a year – down from 2.4m.

Forecast savings for the six months between October 2010 and April 2011 stand at just 300,000 due to ongoing teething problems.

Leeds City Council spent 110,000 with route designers Integrated

Skills Ltd, and a further 27,000 with Chinal, who worked out how many bins each crew in Leeds can empty on a particular round.

Asked if it was wise to spend money on a system that has so far caused disruption for thousands and saved a fraction of the amount expected, Neil Evans, director of environment and neighbourhoods, said: "The issue is the degree of saving opposed to the degree of cost."

Asked how much the alterations will now cost, he added: "We are now redesigning parts of the routes taking into account where we have had higher volumes of waste than expected.

"This might take a couple of days consultancy, but the significant costs were already spent on software and we have the staff in place to do most of the work internally."

Mr Evans blamed last week's poor "missed" figures on Friday's snow, adding that the majority was cleared during a special one-off collection on Sunday.

He maintained that the majority of residents are getting a weekly collection.

Coun Andrew Carter, Leeds Conservative leader, said that spending 150,000 to generate 2m in savings was worth every penny if it worked.

He blamed individual binmen for deliberately disrupting routes: "The whole thing has been a shambles.

"The whole point of the new routes not being introduced until October was so these glitches could be ironed out.

"It's quite obvious that as the majority are making the routes work, some aren't and that's a throwback to the previous dispute.

"The dispute that we are suffering now has gone on for longer than the strike ever did."

Coun Stewart Golton, Leeds Lib Dem leader, pointed the blame at managers for not doing enough preparation.

 
 
 

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