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Belfast City Council plans for recycling are rubbished by ratepayers

By David Young

Angry ratepayers have besieged Belfast City Council with complaints and queries about the city's new food waste recycling rules.

And senior councillors have also criticised the way the new scheme has been communicated to residents.

One councillor - Alliance Party group leader Michael Long - said he had been "overwhelmed" by complaints about the bin scheme, while another - Sinn Fein group leader Jim McVeigh - described the new scheme as a "pain in the ass, but it's got to be done".

Their complaints came as Belfast City Council (BCC) admitted that it was facing huge demand for new food waste caddies and the biodegradable bags to fit them.

On its official Facebook page, the council said stocks of the caddies were running low after 'unprecedented demand.'

The council has received requests for 10,000 of the caddies in the past two weeks and has issued 23,000 food waste bags - but it's still not enough to meet demand from residents who fear being fined for putting the wrong waste in the wrong bin.

Hundreds of people have posted criticism of the new regulations to the BCC Facebook page.

East Belfast councillor Michael Long said last night that, because of the overwhelming number of the complaints, his colleagues had been hand-delivering bags to local ratepayers who had been unable to get them from the council.

Sinn Fein's Jim McVeigh said there were always going to be teething problems with any new system, but he was convinced that better recycling was the right way forward.

He said his party would be pressing for improved communications and public engagement to increase residents' awareness of the new regulations.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman last night thanked ratepayers for their patience with the implementation of the new recycling system,.

She also offered reassurance that enforcement action against waste offenders would not begin until everyone had received their new bins, caddies and recycling bags.

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