It’s bin a long time coming...but Leeds is winning its battle with missed refuse rounds

THING OF THE PAST? Bags of rubbish and overflowing bins in the Hyde Park area of Leeds during the 2009 strikes are now, thankfully, a very rare sight.
THING OF THE PAST? Bags of rubbish and overflowing bins in the Hyde Park area of Leeds during the 2009 strikes are now, thankfully, a very rare sight.
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Every year, Leeds’s refuse teams collect millions of bins on their weekly rounds.

In the last 12 months alone, there were 24,960,000 individual collections scheduled - more than 2 million a month.

Of those, 19,281 were missed - less that one in every 1,200.

We all know that an uncollected or overflowing bin can be a very frustrating experience - individually and collectively,

There are extreme - and rare - examples like the 2009 bin strikes, which caused chaos across the city.

But in communities where missed bins are still an issue, or where some people leave their wheelie bins out for days at an end for no reason, it can be the root of continuing bad feeling and anger.

The annual number of missed collections has actually been falling in the past few years in Leeds.

Figures obtained by the YEP show that in 2012, the percentage of total missed bins was 0.12 per cent compared to 0.08 per cent last year.

In any other sector, a success rate of more than 99 per cent would be lauded, but bin collections - one of the key services for which we pay our council tax - are massively emotive.
We all want to live in clean communities, and when the authorities are always keen to encourage us to do our bit, it’s no surprise that we expect 100 per cent in return.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s cabinet spokesman on the environment and community safety, knows that collecting the city’s waste is a “core function” of any local authority. But he also admits that, despite massive leaps in recent years, there won’t ever be a perfect service, because some parts of the city - and the layout of our suburbs and estates - don’t lend themselves to that ideal.

“As a council we accept that there is about 20 per cent of the city’s housing stock where the council’s offer around refuse collection doesn’t fit comfortably,” he said. “It might be terraced properties, hard to access places, maisonettes. The next part of the jigsaw for us is to look at that.

“If you look at Cottingley, where we couldn’t really get a proper bin service in there, we have replaced it with hard standing areas and large receptacles.

“We have to accept that a one-size-fits all approach won’t work and the real problem is what do we do about that 20 per cent? The existing systems don’t necessarily fit the needs of the community.”

Another key factor in Leeds’ bin collection journey is the move towards fortnightly black/green bin rounds.

In March this year, the authority extended its fortnightly green bins service to 64,000 more homes. It is hoped that 80 per cent of the city’s total households will be on the new system, all the properties that are suitable for the service.

BIN COLLECTIONS BREAKDOWN

The YEP asked Leeds City Council to provide a breakdown of all missed bin collections in the city for the past five years.

We were told that data for before 2012 was no longer available as the council has changed its recording systems since then.

However of the three financial years for which figures were provided, there was a small year on year decrease on the percentage of missed bins.

We were told there was “an improving picture” and the number “reflects a service that is dealing successfully with some significant changes in service delivery”.

In 2012, a large chunk of the city - around a fifth - was marked in the ‘red’ zone for missed collections, An average of between 0.17 per cent and 0.24 per cent of bins were being missed. Around half of the city was in the good performing ‘green’ zone with a ‘missed bin’ report rate of between 0.04 per cent and 0.07 per cent.

In 2014/15 the situation has flipped, with just a handful of wards in the North East of the city now in the ‘red’ zone. The majority of wards are in the green, but with a significant number in the yellow second-best case scenario bracket.

The number of individual households reporting a missed bin round has also fallen, from a total of 10,979 in 2012 to 10,682 last year. That represents a small fall from 3.42 per cent to 3.33 per cent of households.

SHARE YOUR STORY

The Yorkshire Evening Post is calling on Leeds residents to unite in civic pride - and reclaim our communities from those who blight them with grime and anti-social crime.

Environmental teams in the city deal with tens of thousands of complaints and call-outs to tackle the plague of flytipping, dog fouling, littering, anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance.

But we know many of you are fighting back with a plethora of community groups in action.

Call 0113 2388122 and share your ‘civic pride’ story.

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