‘Utter confusion’ at bin collections and overfull skips

‘Utter confusion’ at bin collections and overfull skips

9 January 2019

RATEPAYERS across the district were left confused about alternative bin collection arrangements over the Christmas holiday period, according to a local politician.

Mournes councillor Laura Devlin said there was also frustration that household recycling centres struggled to cope with the huge volume of waste and that many were forced to close early.

Cllr Devlin has met with Newry, Mourne and Down Council officials to discuss the issue which resulted in what she described as “total confusion” over Christmas bin collections.

She said she was inundated with queries about alternative household bin collections due to the bank holidays and claimed that residents did not receive direct communication from the local authority, with the onus on householders to check social media or press advertisements.

“This simply wasn’t good enough and didn’t work,” declared Cllr Devlin. “If the council is serious about recycling and ensuring that its targets are met, as well as delivering a fit-for-purpose service to ratepayers, we need to improve lines of communication with the public.

“This utter confusion in respect of when bins were to be lifted had a knock-on effect on the demand at the household recycling centres with skips filling up much quicker than usual and centres being forced to close.”

Cllr Devlin said staff at the centres in Castlewellan, Downpatrick and Ballynahinch worked very hard.

“For these staff to be placed in the position of having to deal with many irate members of the public who had duly loaded their cars and travelled to the various sites which were closed as the skips were full is far from acceptable,” she continued.

Cllr Devlin explained council officials had taken her concerns on board and had invoked what is being described as a “lessons learned” exercise.

A report on how the service can be improved due to be tabled at the next meeting of the council’s Regulatory and Technical Services Committee.

“The council previously issued collection schedules but these ran out last October. Advising people to check online is all well and good, but we still have many households who don’t have access to broadband and people who are not computer literate.

“The council needs to reflect on this and act accordingly and I look forward to seeing these much-needed changes in advance of the next bank holiday,” she added.

A local authority spokeswoman said Newry, Mourne and Down District Council was aware of a number of issues affecting both the collection of bins, as well as the operation of its household recycling centres over the holiday period. 

She said the organisation was “actively working to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency”.