Monday, 12 August 2013

Liverpool Council's bin failure

Today my bin, and those of my neighbours, remain un emptied a full week after the bin men were meant to come.  The alleys behind some of these terraced houses are looking squalid and the views from neighbours are that they have little faith in the Council to get things back on track.

So what's happened?

It is a fact that the problems stem from a work to rule by staff.  The staff are employed by private firm Amey which has the contract to provide the bin service for Liverpool Council..

So the Council has, on the whole, been merrily shifting blame.

But it is also a fact that the Council tax that we pay, and the money that comes from central government, goes not to this private company but to the Council. And it is the Council that has the responsibility to get this service provided.

Now we all know there are times when there are blips.  Bad weather, sickness and yes industrial action can cause problems.  But it is the Council's job to make sure that things get sorted out and if they can't intervene it is their responsibility to let people know what the score is.

The latest piece of non communication on the Council's website tells us two things.  Firstly that the bin men are 3.2 days behind schedule.  Secondly that we should keep putting the bins out and bringing them back in again until they are collected (website as of 9pm Monday 12 August)

Now most of us are facing delays of at least five days on the purple bins (goodness knows what the situation is with blue and green) and it's simply not good enough to tell people to put bins out and hope.

The reality is that many people can't heave heavy bins in and out and down alleyways on a daily basis on spec.  Yes there is an "assistance" programme but that only works when the men are here.  And sadly even if everyone is perfectly capable of heaving the bin backwards and forwards repeatedly, people simply won't.  Having seen repeated non collection, the bins get left, adding to the general mess and smell.

So the question is... given the Council must take responsibility , what are they actually doing?  Based on what they've published so far, the answer seems to be .... not a lot. 

Given that the mayor has said there'll be major changes to the bin service later this year, which will need good communication and good management, the failure to provide either in this case tells us all we need to know about how good our service is set to be.

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