Further criticism hurled over Middlesbrough Council green waste collection 'calamity'

The green waste collection service rollout in Middlesbrough has come under fire
The green waste collection service rollout in Middlesbrough has come under fire -Credit:Naomi Corrigan

A council rollout of its new green waste collection service has come under further fire with critics describing it as "a calamity", "a shambles" and "a complete flop".

Middlesbrough Council is introducing fortnightly garden waste collections but some residents reported problems trying to sign up. There was also confusion over the collection dates for the old green bins along with reports of residents being unable to get through to a helpline and information leaflets not being delivered.

As reported, council chiefs apologised for a delay in a number of residents getting their new bins and sought to reassure those who had ordered one that theirs will be delivered within the next two weeks. A spokesperson said delivery delays relate to the fact that more than 19,500 residents had subscribed to the garden waste service - significantly more than a first-year projection of 9,300.

A meeting was held at short notice on Wednesday when Executive members approved the purchase of additional 12,000 brown garden waste bins at a cost of £376,000. The move will be funded by the transfer of £311,000 of capital resource from the council's traffic signals scheme and £65,000 from the remaining budget.

The report said the Tees Valley Combined Authority has announced £2.5m in grant funding for the upgrade of traffic signals across the Tees Valley, including £500,000 which is allocated to Middlesbrough. "This grant funding can replace some of the council's capital resource previously set aside to fund this work."

The order of the additional bins was urgent, said the report, as the garden waste subscription service started on April 1, but not all residents had received their bins and were at risk of missing numerous garden waste collections.

Longlands and Beechwood councillor Joan McTigue said the rollout has been "a shambles" while in an email to the council, Independent councillor for Marton West, Ian Morrish said he has consistently passed on information to residents about the service, but added: "The roll out is such a mess, with such poor communication, such as extremely late delivery of the first leaflets followed by non delivery or late delivery of the 'three day notice' of final empty and removal of green bins."

Nunthorpe parish councillor Jon Rathmell said it was being perceived as a "complete flop, even by those like myself who don't object to the charge". And Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Simon Clarke, said the latest development was "another calamity" from Middlesbrough Council, accusing the local authority of causing "mass confusion".

The distribution of brown garden waste bins is part of a shake-up of bin collection services in Middlesbrough, including a move to fortnightly household waste collections in July. The move was agreed last month as councillors agreed a balanced budget for 2024/25, which includes savings and income generation plans totalling £13.9m.

The council has said the switch to new brown bins means all three bins used in Middlesbrough, including for household waste and recycling, can be collected by the same type of refuse truck “increasing the resilience of the service”.

Cllr Peter Gavigan, Executive member for environment, said: “Take-up for this important part of the service was considerably greater than we’d originally envisaged – that’s fantastic news, but it does mean we’re having to urgently order more bins to meet that demand. I’d like to apologise to anyone affected for any inconvenience, and I’d like to thank residents for their ongoing patience and understanding.

“This is a major service improvement and the majority of bins have been issued without any problem. We are working hard to resolve a relatively small number of issues, and in the long term the benefits for all of us will be felt for years to come.”

People can email bins@middlesbrough.gov.uk for help regarding the service.

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