Leeds council is slashing the number of bin rounds across the city as it looks to streamline the service and shave millions off its waste management budget.
The review - which will help save £1.6m - is part of a wider cost-cutting strategy which also includes new charges for replacement bins and bulky waste collections.
The overhaul will see some shorter routes being scrapped entirely and teams being asked to take on extra rounds in a bid to make the service more efficient.
However city bosses insist that the route review is a sign of recent successes in improving the service.
The council’s executive member for environment and sustainability councillor Lucinda Yeadon said: “Over the last few years, fortnightly bin collections, tipping at the new Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility instead of landfill, and improvements in ICT, have all made the refuse service more productive. The number of complaints we receive about the service are lower than ever.
If they (refuse staff) are getting more rounds to do, my worry is that this will increase.Beeston and Holbeck councillor Angela Gabriel
“We are now working hard with staff and trade unions to review our routes, to release this productivity, and further reduce management costs, to deliver further savings. Residents of Leeds will not see any difference in the service they currently receive, but it is possible that some scheduling alterations may be necessary.”
Neil Evans, Leeds City Council’s director of environment and housing, said: “We are not looking at fundamentally re-routing the whole city, just taking out some rounds and re-distributing.
“There will be some changes - and some routes will fall out - but the vast majority of the city will remain on the same route.”
He said the idea was to make the service “more harmonious”, and stressed that impact on jobs was being “worked through with the workforce”.
The YEP understands the review is partly down to an increased move towards a reliance on Sat Nav and “in cab technology”.
Mr Evans said there had been “challenges” in the past when the service was relying completely on staff knowing routes and reading paper maps, and technology was helping the make things “more efficient”.
And he insisted the fact the city’s missed bin rates have fallen in recent years was evidence that the council’s approach - which also includes all black bin waste now going to the Veolia incinerator at Cross Green - was working.
“We have achieved a significant saving in terms of time, But that now needs to be captured in terms of reducing the number of routes,” he said.
Councillors on a cross-party scrutiny panel at Leeds Civic Hall expressed concerns about the impact of the route review on quality of service - and on staffing.
Beeston and Holbeck councillor Angela Gabriel said that many people in her ward had complained that some rubbish was already being left on the street after a collection.
“If they (refuse staff) are getting more rounds to do, my worry is that this will increase,” she said.
Bramley ward member Kevin Ritchie said he had spoken to one wagon driver who, along with his team, expressed “frustration” and “discontent” at not being consulted.
Mr Evans insisted that there had been ongoing talks with a number of frontline staff and union representativess.
He added it was hoped than any reduction in the workforce would be “painless” as there was a redundancy waiting list in the department.
A timetable has now been drawn up for the changes to be implemented by March and to be in force early in the next financial year.
MISSED BINS NUMBERS ARE DOWN
The number of bin collections missed in Leeds has hit a four year low, new figures show.
In the year to December 2016, there was an average of 44 missed bins per 100,000. The figure has dropped steadily from 143 in 2013.
In one recent 12 month period from June 2014/15, there were a total of 19,281 missed bins, which works out as less then 1 in every 1,200.
Leeds City Council’s refuse teams collect around 25 million bins every year, an average of two million a month.