Glasgow missed bin collection complaints run into thousands

More than 9000 complaints about missed bin collections were logged by Glasgow City Council in just six weeks, figures show. 

The local authority blamed high levels of absence due to illness, Covid self-isolation and annual leave over the festive period for delays in clearing over-flowing bins during a “challenging period”.

Data obtained by The Herald using freedom of information laws shows that the council received 9003 reports of missed collections from December 1 to January 16, almost 200 a day.

The highest number of complaints came from households in the west end of the city with 863 logged for the G12 postcode area, which covers Kelvindale, Kelvinside, Hillhead, Dowanhill, and Hyndland.

It was followed by G41, which takes in Pollokshields, Shawlands, Dumbreck, Crossmyloof, and Strathbungo, where 760 reports were received and the G42 postcode which covers Govanhill and Battlefield.


READ MORE: Glasgow missed bin collections — here’s how many complaints in YOUR area

Martha Wardrop, Scottish Greens councillor for Hillhead, said residents had “lost confidence” in the service.

Around 1,500 refuse collectors, street cleaners and drivers went on strike as the COP26 climate conference got underway on October 31.

The industrial action ended on November 8, after an agreement was reached between the council and union leaders.

The council warned that it would take “weeks” for services to fully resume as normal.

The Herald’s data shows that more than 500 missed bin reports were received in the postcode areas over the six-week period in the G11, G13 and G14 areas which take in Partick, Knightswood, Yoker, Jordanhill And Anniesland.


READ MORE: David Leask: Litter problems are not unique to Glasgow

Reports were lowest in areas including Maryhill, Springburn and Summerston, where only 18 complaints were received and the G1 city centre area, where there are mainly businesses, recorded 72 reports.

John McKendrick, Professor of Social Justice and co-Director of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit said there was a risk that “those who shout loudest” received better services.

He said: “Some years ago Annette Hastings studied the factors related to environmental services in deprived / less deprived neighbourhoods.

“She found that for a number of reasons poorer neighbourhoods were less well served.

“Unless there is robust and unequivocal evidence that the west end and more affluent parts of the southside have received poorer bin services, then it is imperative that Glasgow City Council does not prioritise resources in response to higher levels of complaints from residents in these areas. 

“Everyone and everywhere deserves good public services. Those who ‘shout the loudest’ should not receive better services than those from other parts of the city.”

Glasgow city council apologised for delays in collections earlier this month as images were shared on social media of overflowing blue, recycling bins.


Comedian Kevin Bridges shared his frustration on social media, writing:”Some buzz if Glasgow City Council just never emptied the bins again.
“A month. Mental.”

Martha Wardrop, Scottish Greens councillor for Hillhead, said the public had “lost confidence” in refuse collection services.

She said: “In my own Hillhead ward, and across the city, residents have reported going weeks and even months without their recycling being uplifted, with those living in tenement buildings suffering the most.

“Their communal bins are overflowing and many have had no reliable collection service over the last year.  

HeraldScotland: Martha Wardrop

READ MORE: Agenda: Much more commitment is needed to tackle fly-tipping 

“The omicron variant of Covid-19 has had an impact on staffing levels and has this put extra pressure on frontline workers. 

“Because of the workload and the number of complaints being made this is no longer acceptable.

“We need to have proper resources put in place in Hillhead as well as the rest of the city to get collections on track and rebuild people’s confidence in these services.”

A council spokesman said: “It has been a challenging time for our cleansing service but we have caught up on the delays experienced over the festive period and we expect the service to run to schedule at this time.

READ MORE: Littering soared across Scotland during the pandemic, according to surveys 

“We fully understand that a missed bin collection does cause inconvenience for householders and we are sorry for any delay to bins being emptied.

“The delays over the festive period were caused by a combination of high absence levels due to sickness, covid self-isolation and annual leave as well as the impact of the service shutting down for holidays on Christmas and New Year.

“At other times missed collections can be due to other factors such as problems with access to bin courts as happens when vehicles are parked across a service lane or where there is an issue with close keys.

“On other occasions a missed collection can be caused by a problem with a vehicle or an outbreak of illness among staff but we always look to retrieve a missed collection as soon as possible after the schedule date.

“Over the course of the year our cleansing teams undertake around 20 million household bin collection and routinely over 99.8% are completed without complaint.”

Glasgow’s council leader was forced to defend the city ahead of COP26 amid accusations that the streets were “filthy”.

Challenged about the state of the city’s streets during an interview with STV, Councillor Susan Aitken said: “I don’t believe the streets are filthy. I think there are patches that are problematic. I think there are patches that need targeted.”

She said there had always been “challenges” in Glasgow and the city simply required a “spruce up” in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Glasgow City Council had the lowest recycling rate, in tonnes per person out of all councils in Scotland in 2019 according to SEPA household waste summary data.
Its recycling rate was 24.7%, compared to East Renfrewshire which had a rate of 67.8%.

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