Leeds City Council 'really proud' of bin collections record, despite thousands of missed rubbish rounds in three years

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Leeds City Council has staunchly defended its bin collections record, after its own figures showed more than 58,000 had been missed in three years.

Chief environmental officer Helen Freeman said the authority was "really proud" of the efforts of rubbish crews, and claimed that missed collections accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of all bin rounds.

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Access problems caused by illegally parked cars, roadworks and breakdowns among an "ageing fleet" of bin lorries have all been blamed for failures to collect people's waste.

However, the figures do not include any bins collected within 48 hours of its scheduled day. Waste taken during this period is classed as having been removed on time.

Presenting a report on the issue to a council scrutiny board, Ms Freeman said: "We collect 76,000 bins per day, so when we're talking about the percentage of missed collections, it's useful to think about the actual numbers.

"Of the 76,000 the average number per day that we miss is 58. That's a performance we're really proud of.

"I know there are practical challenges all the year through but our collection crews are doing a really good job.

"That's not to say we're complacent, and we want to improve going forward."

Ms Freeman said that failures to collect waste often peaked during winter months. Bin rounds in Leeds were suspended for three days in February this year after heavy snow.

Contracts manager Matthew Birkett told councillors that missed collections often occur around Victorian terraced streets with narrow access roads.

He described one incident where binmen spent 45 minutes dragging waste to the end of a road because a resident refused to move their car, which was blocking their path.

He said: "As Leeds gets bigger and bigger, parking has just exploded, and with that some estates that were built a long time ago do not have the capacity for vehicles.

"The problem is often with the back streets."

Mr Birkett said that new parking restrictions were being rolled out in problem areas, adding, "We are working pro-actively to address the issues".

He added that gasworks and other road repairs had also been responsible for recent problems, despite an agreement between the council and other agencies that workers either give way to bin lorries or help bring the waste in.

And the city will soon get a new fleet of vehicles, Mr Birkett said, after he admitted that some of the older lorries had broken down on their way to do their rounds this year.