THOUSANDS of garden waste bins will sit unemptied until the spring after strikes hit the last collections of the year.
Waste chiefs at Sunderland Council scheduled extra collections for brown bin-users, with the last collection due on Wednesday December 9.
But residents due to have their bins collected on November 30 – the day of widespread industrial action – must now wait more than three months to have their waste taken away, as a replacement date cannot be arranged.
Councillor James Blackburn, who holds the Attractive and Inclusive City post on Sunderland’s ruling cabinet, said: “The collection service is offered to approximately 85,000 households across the city throughout the growing season, and has normally ended in mid-November.
“This year the council extended collection dates by two weeks in response to customer requests to help residents collect late autumn leaf fall, with the last collection due on Wednesday December 9.
“Unfortunately for some residents their last scheduled collection was Wednesday 30 November.
“Approximately 8,500 households who could have received a brown bin collection if they had chosen to put out their bin on this date would have been affected.”
Coun Blackburn said brown bin collection services were due to begin again at the end of March 2012, but dates were yet to be confirmed.
He said: “The council has received four enquiries from residents because of this.
“We have responded to each apologising for the inconvenience, but explained that we are unable to arrange an extra collection day.”
Coun Blackburn said residents can request a bulky waste collection by contacting the council’s customer contact centre, or take garden waste to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres in Beach Street, Deptford, or Campground, Springwell.
He added: “They can leave green waste in the wheel bin and it will be collected for composting when the service starts in the spring.
“By keeping small quantities of garden waste dry and secure in the wheel bin, odours and other nuisances will be avoided.”
Sunderland Conservatives leader Robert Oliver, however, questioned the council’s handling of the situation.
“There is nothing illegal in the non-collection of these brown bins due to industrial action, but it does bring home to the thousands of affected residents that strikes have consequences for people who are not directly involved in the dispute.
“Some people will be asking why patients in the NHS were given later dates for procedures which were cancelled on Wednesday November 30, but the same principle does not apply to the collection of garden waste.”
* To arrange a bulky waste collection by the council, call 520 5503.