Apology for residents after bins revamp turns chaotic

A CITY council has apologised to residents over bin collection "chaos" which has seen some people wait weeks for their bins to be emptied.

Leeds Council, which said it was trying to sort out the problems "as a matter of urgency", also apologised for the way it has dealt with complaints from householders.

The council's call centre has been unable to cope with the level of complaints and 10,000 calls have gone unanswered, according to councillors.

Liberal Democrat members claimed yesterday that the new collection routes, which were drawn up to save money, would probably end up costing taxpayers more, although the claim was denied by the authority.

Headingley Liberal Democrat councillor James Monaghan said: "These reforms should have saved 1.6m this year, but we now learn that none of this will materialise."

He said the reorganisation had been an "utter shambles", and added: "They have wasted a huge amount of taxpayers' money, which is unforgivable given the huge budget pressure the council's facing.

"We're still getting reports from many residents that their bins still aren't being emptied a full nine weeks after the new routes came into effect."

Some residents received letters about new collection dates only after the date had already passed, councillors have claimed.

A spokesman for Leeds Council said: "We apologise unreservedly for failings in our bin collections and dealings with customers as our new service has been introduced and want to reassure the public that everything possible is being done to sort out problems as a matter or urgency.

"Our savings based on a June start for the scheme were estimated at 1.4m this time last year – however by May it was clear that the new service would not to ready for some time yet.

"By the time we ironed out legal issues around the pay scheme, which was then signed off by all political parties in September, and completed work on planning and testing the new routes, the start date could not be till late October.

"We certainly have not wasted any money – it is simply that our savings are not as high as originally thought, but we still aim to spend around 300,000 less on the service than we did last year."