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Belfast mayor's fury at bin collection chaos

By Jonny Bell

Published 18/10/2016

Belfast's Lord Mayor has vented his anger after ratepayers rubbished the council's handling of changes to the city's bin collections. File image
Belfast's Lord Mayor has vented his anger after ratepayers rubbished the council's handling of changes to the city's bin collections. File image

Belfast's Lord Mayor has vented his anger after ratepayers rubbished the council's handling of changes to the city's bin collections.

Although residents should have received a letter outlining any alterations, many had not been notified over when to leave their bin out in future.

After himself being inundated with complaints on Facebook, Lord Mayor Brian Kingston said he would forward them to the council's director of city and neighbourhood services.

He added: "I am appalled by the lack of communication and the poor organisation of this transition."

Belfast City Council said the changes would mean "more efficient" routes and staff would work to minimise disruption.

But yesterday, angry residents told how people were scrambling around to put their bins out when they heard the bin lorry approaching unexpectedly in the morning.

Margaret Lindsay, writing on Facebook, said: "I have spoken to several people who have not received a letter, therefore they are assuming their day has not changed. I would like the council to explain why the communication of the 'biggest change' has not been effectively communicated to users."

Others hit out at the length of time it would take for their bin to be collected by the council.

One resident said he would have to wait three weeks to have his rubbish lifted.

Rachel Nortcliff-Greer added: "Our street didn't receive a letter and when I emailed, the day has changed." She said it was "very poorly organised".

Deborah McCrystal added: "No letter at BT14 and we now have a change of day, plus an extra six days to wait to get our already full black bin emptied. [It has been] very badly handled, it seems no-one was informed of all this."

Hayley Allen described how residents were scrambling to get their bins out in the Knocknagoney area in the east of the city, all because someone "happened to hear the lorry approach".

Others said streets in Belfast were lined with full bins, only for the collection day to have changed to a Tuesday.

Some hit out at a "shocking lack of communication".

When some went to the council's website to find out if their collection day had been altered, they were informed the information was "not available".

However, if they called or emailed the council, a response would be made within three working days.

It led some ratepayers to brand it "a shambles".

Other residents also claimed letters were not received as there may have been spelling mistakes made with the address.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said over 160,000 letters were sent out explaining the changes.

She said the council was investigating why residents may not have received the information.

She added: "The letters were issued on the week beginning September 19, through a third-party mail-delivery supplier and, following complaints, we are now reviewing the deliveries with this contractor.

"The letters were reviewed and proofed in detail. We are not aware of any spelling mistakes at the time of print. However, on projects of this magnitude, it is possible small errors, such as a typo, may have occurred.

"On the week beginning September 26, we issued statements to all local press, on social media and posted information online, alerting residents to look out for these letters and if they had not received one by October 14, to please call our call centre and we would tell them their new collection day."

She added: "We apologise to residents who may feel ill-informed and we are aware that some households will have a three-week wait for their next collection.

"Therefore, as part of our planning, we have made provision so that all residents may present rubbish bags alongside bins with their first general waste collections."

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