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‘Postcode lottery’? How does your ward fare on missed bin collections?

Leeds City Council has been accused of “going backwards” on waste disposal after it was revealed more than 58,000 missed bin collections have been reported in the past three years, writes democracy reporter Richard Beecham.

A report, set to go before members of Leeds City Council’s environment scrutiny committee, shows Farnley and Wortley Ward is the second-worst out of 33 wards in the city for missed collections, second only to Morley North.

Some of the reasons given for missed collections were vehicle breakdowns, inaccessible roads and crew members being unfamiliar with routes.

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Here is a table of the total number of missed collections in each council ward between June 2015 and August 2018. This includes general waste, recycling and garden waste:

  1. Morley North – 3,930;
  2. Farnley and Wortley – 3,454;
  3. Morley South – 3,084;
  4. Chapel Allerton – 3,046;
  5. Roundhay – 2,652;
  6. Killingbeck and Seacroft – 2,482;
  7. Gipton and Harehills – 2,349;
  8. Headingley and Hyde Park – 2,217;
  9. Middleton Park – 2,159;
  10. Armley – 2,030;
  11. Kirkstall – 1,995;
  12. Burmantofts and Richmond Hill – 1,815;
  13. Moortown – 1,791;
  14. Harewood – 1,668;
  15. Temple Newsam – 1,667;
  16. Wetherby – 1,629;
  17. Kippax and Methley – 1,603;
  18. Cross Gates and Whinmoor – 1,493;
  19. Ardsley and Robin Hood – 1,484;
  20. Beeston and Holbeck – 1,477;
  21. Hunslet and Riverside – 1,407;
  22. Alwoodley – 1,391;
  23. Rothwell – 1,356;
  24. Pudsey – 1,344;
  25. Weetwood – 1,250;
  26. Calverley and Farsley – 1,243;
  27. Bramley and Stanningley – 1,178;
  28. Little London and Woodhouse – 1,120;
  29. Horsforth – 1,109;
  30. Garforth and Swillington – 1,094;
  31. Adel and Wharfedale – 884;
  32. Otley and Yeadon – 764;
  33. Guiseley and Rawdon – 713.

A total of 58,878 individual collections were missed between June 2015 and August 2018. It also showed that more than 14,000 of the missed collections took place in the first eight months of 2018.

A member of the council who requested the report said there are “fundamental problems” with the city’s waste disposal.

‘Radically wrong’

But Cllr Mark Dobson (Ind, Garforth) said the figures were not good enough, adding:

“We have to factor in that we have gone fortnightly.

“This means if you have a collection missed, it’s 28 days you have to then get through. In the summer months that can create environmental health issues, as well as you having a maggot-infested bin on your drive.

“If you have roadworks on your road, for example, there should be an agreement that they should come back at some point.

“If you tell them your bin has been missed, you get, ‘oh dear, what a shame, but we can’t go back’. That is not good enough. Something has been going radically wrong.”

The data includes bins missed that were still within 48 hours of the due date when reported online. It also showed almost half of all missed bins reported were black bins.

Just over a quarter all of missed bins are green bins, and just under a quarter of reports are for brown garden waste bins.

‘Postcode lottery’

Conservative councillor Paul Wadsworth (Guiseley and Rawdon), the group’s spokesman for environmental services, said there was a “postcode lottery” when it came to waste disposal. He said:

“Bin collections are one of the largest and most visible services that the council provides and Leeds’ council taxpayers rightly expect their bins to be collected on time as scheduled.

“There is also great inconsistency across the city, with some wards reporting under 200 missed collections over the course of a year, whilst other wards show well over 1,000. Many would consider that degree of disparity to amount to a postcode lottery.

“With plans on the horizon to rationalise bin routes, there is clearly the potential for the situation to get worse not better, and any such plans will need to be handled very carefully.”

‘99.9 per cent collection rate’

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:

“As a council we are committed to providing a reliable and efficient refuse collection across the city and are proud of our continuing collection rate of at least 99.9 per cent.

“Unfortunately however there are occasions when bins are missed due to access problems, adverse weather or unforeseen operational issues which can lead to some addresses being missed. If these type of issues do occur, we do everything possible to empty the bins within 48 hours.”

The report is set to be discussed by the council’s environment, housing and communities scrutiny board on Wednesday, October 3.

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