Leeds bins chief survives ballot

A senior councillor in charge of Leeds's troubled bin service has survived calls for him to quit after months of missed collections.

But there were claims the system was in chaos as letters informing people of the changes arrived late and residents struggled to get through to Leeds City Council's call centre to report missed collections.

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The problems prompted the Conservative group to call for the head of Coun Tom Murray (Lab, Garforth and Swillington), Executive Board member for environmental services, including refuse collections.

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A resolution to the council tabled by Coun Barry Anderson (Con, Adel and Wharfedale) said: "This council has no confidence in the executive member for environmental services following his incompetent handling of the bin route re-organisation."

Following a debate lasting two-and-a-half hours, the no confidence motion supported by the Tories and Liberal Democrats was defeated by 54 votes to 39.

Coun Keith Wakefield, council leader, said simply calling for a resignation was not constructive but he acknowledged the difficulties had revealed "profound problems" with management, communications and

the call centre and promised a review.

During the debate, a string of councillors told of the complaints from frustrated, angry and distressed residents who failed to get adequate information after going many weeks without a collection.

Coun Mark Harris (Lib Dem, Moortown) said: "In the end the buck stops somewhere. This is incompetent management and you sit at the head of that. Honour demands that you should go."

Coun Anderson said refuse collection was probably the most important service people received from the council and added: "Leadership has been lacking."

Coun Murray apologised to people who had not had their bins emptied and admitted that in trying to reduce the number of collection routes by 11 "we bit off more than we could chew."

He said extra staff had been brought in and the majority of routes were now being completed.