Leeds bins row as councillor accuses authority of allowing 'fridges and rubble' to pile up in the city's streets

Senior council decision-makers were accused of allowing discarded fridges and bags of rubble to pile up on grass verges around Leeds during a fierce debate this week.
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It followed the presentation of a motion, from opposition Conservative councillors, which called on the council to enhance its waste collection services, increase recycling and completely do away with charges for bulky waste.

But Labour councillors hit back, claiming the city's waste collection services during the pandemic were just as good as any other major city, and accused Conservative councillors of hypocrisy for not calling for more funding from their own government.

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The debate took place in a full Leeds City Council meeting this week.

Should Leeds City Council's bin service be improved?Should Leeds City Council's bin service be improved?
Should Leeds City Council's bin service be improved?
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"Everything seemed okay but things haven't really improved in the collection rate since then. We are two years on from then. We have had subsequent lockdowns and we are some way back to normality, where we have no restrictions, and we are still suffering from a lot of missed collections.

"It's not about money - £4.41m has been pumped in in 2021/22 - there have still been lots of missed bins and even repeat bins being missed. The solution to this would be a route reorganisation, but that is not happening.

"It's not about the crews, it's not about management - we need leadership."

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Coun Wadsworth's motion called for an "urgent report" to go before council decision-makers setting out an "action plan" to "rapidly improve performance" in areas that have suffered from missed bin collections over the past couple of years.

It also called for the scrapping of inert waste charges, often referred to as the "DIY tax", to help reduce fly-tipping, as well as an "improved recycling offer", which would include glass recycling, "enhanced" garden waste collections, and food waste collections.

Coun Wadsworth added: "The blight on our estates is fridge freezers and bags of rubble on grass verges, which will still be there in the same way."

The council's ruling Labour administration instead proposed an amendment to Coun Wadsworth's motion, which instead praised refuse workers, and committed to "continued engagement" to ensure redesigned bin routes would be as "efficient as possible".

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The council's executive member for environment Coun Mohammed Rafique (Lab) said: "My immediate reaction to [the Conservatives'] white paper was once again that there was a lack of acknowledgement and gratitude for the hard working frontline workers who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

"This is not the first time you [Conservatives] have done this - shame on you all.

"You are raising issues for which your government's continued stripping of funding is making things more challenging. Find us the money and we will do kerbside collections for food and glass."

He went on to say the bin collection rate during the pandemic was 99.8 per cent, and that the number of bins emptied during that time totalled 47 million, and that 54,000 bins were missed across the city over two years.

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Coun Rafique concluded: "Your government prioritises animals over humans in Afghanistan, and let's not talk about the partygate saga."

Coun Drinkwater responded to Coun Rafique: "The big problem is that you don't accept there is a problem. If you accept there is a problem, we are happy to help.

"I used to come and help you on the issue of trees, but now I can't because you haven't spoken to me for two years,"

The Conservatives' motion was rejected, and members voted in favour of Labour's amendment.