Anger as waste piles up while bins wait to be collected across Birmingham

Opposition groups have blasted Birmingham City Council following fury in parts of the city over a wait of up to four weeks for bin collections.

Rubbish waiting to be collected from a recycling centre in Birmingham
Rubbish waiting to be collected from a recycling centre in Birmingham

The council announced changes to its usual collection schedule over the festive period, with some households not getting a recycling collection for four weeks.

Separately, catch-up crews had to be drafted in by the council to cover missed bins after the council had to to drop rounds last week due to the impact of Omicron.

Disappointed residents have spoken about the wait and disruption – at the end of a year in which the council was rapped for its performance on recycling and refuse collections.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman looked into 44 complaints about recycling and refuse collections between August 2020 and 2021 and upheld “over 95 per cent of these”.

Overflowing rubbish bins on Park Road North in Aston, Birmingham

Councillor Deirdre Alden, shadow cabinet member for street scene and parks, referenced figures on missed collections over the past five years released by the council in answer to a written question from the Conservative group.

She said: “The disappointment over missed collections over the Christmas Period sadly isn’t anything new for residents.

“From January 2017 to November 2021 there have been over 500,000 missed bin collections in Birmingham – that simply is not good enough and shows how Labour can’t get control of a basic service that residents expect and pay good money for.

“We have been in the Covid-19 pandemic for nearly two years now and it is disappointing to see that the Labour administration is still incapable of putting in place proper plans to ensure the most basic of services like street cleaning and bin collections happen properly”.

Rubbish waiting to be collected from a recycling centre in Birmingham

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Jon Hunt said: “Clearly Covid is making life difficult for everyone but the problem of large numbers of collection rounds being missed goes back to last summer.

“Labour promised to reform the collection service following the 2017 bin strike and have totally failed to do so.

“At times in recent months, the list of excuses and the level of complacency about this has been staggering.

“On one occasion, there were drivers without vehicles in one part of the city and vehicles without drivers in another part.

“In my ward in Perry Barr, residents simply no longer know if their bins will be collected on time or not.”

Birmingham City Council has previously said services were being affected as a result of staff Covid absence.

A spokesperson said the number of homes affected this time around was “significantly lower” than in previous years and highlighted that catch-up crews were out on the Sunday (Jan 2).

Councillor John O’Shea, cabinet member for street scene and parks, has previously said: “We always strive to strike the right balance between providing a service and ensuring that our hardworking crews get time with their families and loved ones over Christmas and new year.

“The plan put forward, following discussion with staff and their representatives, means there are some changes to business as usual – so we would urge everyone who normally has a collection on a Monday or a Tuesday to check out what is scheduled for them.”

Those who would have had a collection on Monday December 27 will still have to wait until January 10 for recycling collections.

Those who would have had a recycling collection on December 28 will have to wait until January 11, while those who would normally have had a recycling collection on January 3 will have to wait until January 17.

The situation is different in other areas including Solihull, Sandwell and Walsall where collections were unaffected over the bank holidays.

Visitors to Sutton Coldfield household recycling centre found the site was not running a cardboard/paper recycling facility on December 28.

In response, a Veolia spokesperson said: “We saw very high quantities of cardboard and paper recycling in Sutton Coldfield over the Christmas period.

“To ease the pressure and to allow for more recycling we had to empty our containers to allow for more capacity.

“As soon as the empty containers were returned to site, normal service was resumed.”

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