Council chief’s plea over new Sunderland bin collection system

Bins left out for collection in Hendon as alternative collections were brought in throughout Sunderland.
Bins left out for collection in Hendon as alternative collections were brought in throughout Sunderland.
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Council leaders have urged Wearsiders to help them make a change to fortnightly bin collections run as smoothly as possible.

Sunderland City Council has switched its refuse service for general waste to once every two weeks as it looks to save £750,000.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

Councillor Michael Mordey.

But while it says there have been some teething problems following the change, problems have been caused by residents who have contaminated recyclable waste with items including dirty nappies and bagged up deposits, which mean the materials cannot be processed for use again.

Government funding which covered the cost of weekly pick ups ended at the close of the last financial year, while the Labour-led authority says it must continue to cut costs as it needs to save a further £74million from its budget up to 2020.

Changes to the bin service for the city’s 120,000 homes began on April 4, with the collections set up to remove the everyday green waste bins one week and the blue recycling containers the next. In addition, households also face a separate £27.50 annual fee for their garden waste bins.

The change has sparked a petition and complaints, but the council has said it had no option but to make the move.

Streets have been missed as there have been changes and people have realised they’ve made a mistake, but these issues have been sorted out the next day.

Councillor Michael Mordey

In addition to the cost saving efforts, the council says it is also having to cope with a reduction in frontline workers due to the Government cuts.

It now has 129 full-time or equivalent workers and no season staff covering the city’s services, compared to 240 workers and 24 seasonal employees due to the austerity measures, which has seen £2.35million cut from responsive local services.

The council has said there have been some issues with the collections as it gets to grip with the new routine, but has urged residents to play their part in helping it run smoothly.

Councillor Michael Mordey, cabinet member for city services, said: “The information we have got back from our councillors is that they’ve heard positive things and anyone who has concerns can contact their councillor.

Jack Crawford House.

Jack Crawford House.

“Streets have been missed as there have been changes and people have realised they’ve made a mistake with their bin, but these issues have been sorted out the next day.

“We are aware that some people have got concerns, but effectively, we are where we are because of the financial position, because of the austerity and the cuts, but we are asking people to use us as much as possible and make sure they are doing the basics, putting their bin out on the correct day and not mixing refuse with recycling.

“If they are struggling with their recycling, they can ask for help from their councillor.

“We want to promote recycling as much as we can.

“We are encouraging people to squash down their boxes and plastics, as we know this helps free up space.”

All waste is first taken to Jack Crawford House, with refuse then taken to a plant in Teesside where it is incinerated to generate power and recycling sent on to be processed.

Enforcement action on littering issues so far this year have seen three £75 littering fines handed out and two £350 flytipping fines issued in January.

A littering notice and three flytipping fines were issued in February.

Last month, four littering fines, three flytipping fines, one notice for failing to manage or dispose of waste properly and four flytipping notices were issued.