Leeds's new bin collection costs spiral EXCLUSIVE

In a desperate bid to get Leeds's streets cleared of rubbish the council spent £70,000 on overtime pay – in just one month.

The number of extra hours worked in November to help empty bins and complete rounds was the equivalent of employing 38 extra members of staff at a cost of 70,000, revealed a YEP freedom of information request.

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The council also spent 25,000 on up to 16 extra members of staff over a six week period to handle an increase in calls and complaints about refuse and bin routes to its contact centre.

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These latest costs can be added to a spiralling total that has so far been spent on the implementation of new bin rounds that were designed to save money.

Only yesterday the Yorkshire Evening Post exclusively revealed that the council is expected to spend 1.6m on agency staff who have helped to clear a backlog of missed collections in 2010/11 – 500,000 more than spent in 2009/10.

Eleven of the city's 51 black bin routes were axed on October 25 in what was the biggest shake-up of Leeds City Council's refuse department in more than 20 years. Two of the routes have since been reinstated as they were too long.

The changes have caused major disruption to weekly waste collections provided to 335,000 homes.

Between October 25 and December 6 the council received 34,789 calls about refuse and bin routes – up from 14,953 calls for the same period in 2009.

Last week 6.6 per cent of collections or 21,000 homes were missed and a special Sunday shift had to be deployed to catch up on collections.

Councillor Tom Murray, executive member for environmental services, refused to comment on the 70,000 overtime figure.

However he did say that he was confident that collection rates were much improved so far this week although he declined to reveal how many of these bins were emptied as scheduled and how many were emptied by back-up teams.

Jacqui Oatley.

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