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Council in ‘mop-up’ collection as 22,000 bins not lifted last week

People are paying an absolute fortune for this service and I think when you ask anybody on the street what the council does for them they say 'they lift your bins'

Armagh green bins

Some bins that were not collected last week are being lifted earlier than planned after complaints from councillors.

Up to 22,000 bins were not emptied across the district last week, due to staff sickness and industrial action.

Alderman Gareth Wilson of the DUP had called for action at Monday’s meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

He said a solution needed to be found to ensure residents were not left waiting up to four weeks to have their bins emptied.

The council has since announced a ‘mop-up’ collection for black and brown bins, although the green bins will have to wait until their next scheduled date.

At the meeting, council’s strategic director of neighbourhood services Sharon O’Gorman said the council was determined to get collections back into the route cycle, meaning it could be four weeks before bins are lifted.

However, Alderman Wilson said he could see this being a “problem”.

“Our messaging has to be clear on this and I would like to see a situation where a one-off lift could be undertaken to gather these bins up. I think asking people to wait another two weeks is just too much to ask,” he said.

Councillor Mark Baxter, the DUP’s group leader, seconded the motion and told the chamber many brown bins had not been lifted in Waringstown.

“I know the department is under pressure, I speak to supervisors daily, they are very good but I know with sickness and of course with the industrial action last week they are under pressure,” he said.

“At the workshop the other night I did ask if there was anything we could do, even looking at outside contractors to come in and do one lift.

“People are paying an absolute fortune for this service and I think when you ask anybody on the street what the council does for them they say ‘they lift your bins’.”

SDLP councillor Eamon McNeill noted that black bins have not been lifted in his constituency and said the suggestion from officers of simply missing this lift would be “a big issue, especially with some households having two black bins”.

UUP group leader Alderman Jim Speers told the chamber he had been emailed about this very issue during this discussion and one of the complaints in the email was that the council’s website “as usual gives zero information” about the situation.

“I have not checked it but I think this is a key issue. Our communication in relation to this issue has not been good enough,” he said.

SDLP group leader, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said he would be in support of Alderman Wilson’s proposal and claimed up to 22,000 bins were not lifted across the district last week.

Independent councillor Paul Berry said he too fully supported the proposal as the alternative is simply “not good enough”.

“It has been very difficult for us to tell constituents, some of whom won’t even have vehicles to go to a recycling centre. People are paying their rates and they expect that service at the very least,” he said.

Ms O’Gorman told the chamber that the council’s senior management team shared councillors’ frustrations on the matter and promised to see what could be achieved in the context of “available resources and working time directives”.

Since the meeting, the council has posted a message on its social media platforms and website saying a “mop-up service” is operational for all black bins missed last week.

Householders are advised to leave black bins out before 7am, for collection as soon as possible between March 30 and April 2.

It added: “Additional mop-up collections for missed brown bins are continuing in the Craigavon area. Residents are advised to leave your brown bin out in this area until it is collected.

“All remaining missed bin collections will take place as normal on your scheduled calendar of collections, week commencing April 4.”


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