Bin collection and recycling changes – Phase 2 roadshow at the Mitchell Street Centre

As I advised back in July, Phase 2 of the changes to recycling and bin collection arrangements starts on 9th November and represents a significant change in bin/recycling arrangements for households.
 
In Phase 2 of are the areas around Tullideph, Pentland, City Road, Brook Street, the eastern part of Blackness Road, Peddie Street, South Tay Street and Windsor Street.
 
Last night, I attended part of one of the roadshows taking place across the Phase 2 area.  Last night’s was at the Mitchell Street Centre and was well-attended with well over 40 folk attending.   It gave residents the opportunity to find out more about the changes and get their questions answered.
 
Phase 2 – at least as far as the West End Ward part of it is concerned – probably presents more of an implementation challenge than the properties in Phase 1 given the large number of tenemental and flatted properties where, in many cases, the new system will involve communal facilities.  
 
It is therefore welcome that the council is holding no less than eight roadshows across the Phase 2 area.    There are more next week – see poster with full details here.

Changes to bin collection and recycling arrangements – Phase 2 roadshows

Back in July, I updated residents about the areas of the West End covered by Phase 2 of changes to bin and recycling collection arrangements.    The changes are effective from 9th November :
It was originally envisaged that the areas covered in the West End in Phase 2 would be most of the east and north of the West End Ward, although the Environment Department decided to exclude the areas immediately north and south of the Perth Road district shopping centre, which is to be included in a future phase.
 
You can see a map of the areas that are in Phase 2 in the West End in my earlier update here.
 
Various roadshows are taking place – some in the West End Ward – see below – all residents are very welcome to attend:

West End recycling and bin collection changes – a further update

Last week, I advised of the rollout of Phase 2 of the recycling extension and changes to bin arrangements that will start in November.    As I pointed out, in Phase 2 are the areas around Tullideph, Pentland, City Road, Brook Street, eastern part of Blackness Road, Peddie Street, South Tay Street and Windsor Street.    
 
However, there is a significant change to the Phase 2 that was originally agreed at council committee in that the Perth Road Lanes and surrounding area is now excluded, something I mentioned last week that I had queried with the Environment Department.   
 
I have now been advised by the department:
 
“The inclusion of the Perth Road lanes into future phases will be dependant on routing changes as each phase progresses so whilst I cannot, at this stage, be specific in advising which phase these will be part of, I can advise that it’s highly unlikely that they will be included in Phase 3 (February 2016) as this corresponds to a different area of the city. 
 
At the very latest, these lanes would be provided with their new services as part of Phase 6 (March 2017) but this may happen much sooner if routing changes as part of Phases 4 or 5 (June & December 2016 respectively) allow these to be included here.
 
As we progress with planning each phase we will be able to provide more updates on areas included – please note that the implementation dates given are approximate & may be subject to change.”
 
I will, of course, keep residents updated about this matter.

More recycling and bin collection changes for the West End

Yesterday, the City Council announced the detail of Phase 2 of the changes to bin collection and recycling arrangements for the West End (and parts of the Lochee Ward).   The Environment Department advises me that :
 
“Arrangements for Phase 2
 
•         First collections – these will start  w/c Monday 9th November 2015. 
 
•         Bin deliveries – these will take place during the two weeks prior to commencement (w/c 26th October & w/c 2nd November).Combined collection calendars and full service information leaflets will also be  delivered during this period. 
 
•         Teaser leaflets –Phase 2 residents will have received notification of the forthcoming changes via a “teaser” leaflet to be delivered mid-September – this leaflet will advertise local roadshows and events, as well as providing  information on the new service. This information will also signpost residents to the council website, e-mail address and phone line, should they have any queries. 
 
•         Consultation and engagement – a range of consultation & engagement activities will be ongoing throughout the phase 2 area during the summer and autumn, with residents notified of meetings & events via press, local advertising and, where applicable, by letter. We will, of course, notify Councillors in the affected areas of any meetings, roadshows or events taking place within their ward.”
 
Main features include :
 
• Weekly separate food waste collection 
 
• Increased range of materials accepted in blue bins. This is currently used for paper and card but will be able to also accept plastics and metal. Frequency of uplifts to change from 4-weekly to 2-weekly 
 
• Slimline burgundy bin for mixed glass – collected 4-weekly 
 
• Reduction from weekly to fortnightly general waste collections 
 
• Expanded assisted collection service – now available for blue & burgundy bin collections 
 
• No change to garden waste service 
 
In phase 2 of are the areas around Tullideph Pentland City Road Brook Street, eastern part of Blackness Road, Peddie Street, South Tay Street and Windsor Street.    There is a significant change to the Phase 2 that was originally agreed at council committee in that the Perth Road Lanes and surrounding area is now excluded, something I have queried with the Environment Department.
 
A plan showing the areas that are included is below – although you can click here to download a high-definition PDF map that allows you to zoom to show particular streets :
Last night’s Evening Telegraph article also highlighted my concerns about the continued inadequate serving of the Roseangle Recycling Centre.    This has been an on-going issue and I have received the following assurance from the City Council :
 
“We will be reconfiguring the bin types and capacities at Roseangle over the coming days. This work is currently being scheduled.”
 
As you can see (below) the Roseangle centre was given a tidy up earlier this week following my raising the latest concern :
I have also been promised similar attention to the overflowing centre at Kings Cross Road, following a complaint to me about it from a City Road constituent who uses that centre regularly.

New bins and recycling arrangements – Blackness Road update

I previously mentioned the concerns raised by residents in Blackness Road west of Ashbank Road (on the north side and east of Balgay Road) about how the new arrangements are proposed to affect them.  
 
Eurobins were proposed but this was a stretch of Blackness Road where the current collection arrangements were working well, with few if any bins left permanently on the pavement.
 
A consultation meeting took place late last month which I and local residents attended and council officers listened carefully to residents’ views.    I am pleased to say that the Environment Department has now revised the proposals here to :
 
• Retention of grey wheeled bins for general waste
 
• Introduction of individual wheeled bins for recycling (blue bin for paper, card, metals and plastics, burgundy bin for mixed glass)
 
• Introduction of an on-street communal food container (small kitchen caddies and liners provided to each household to collect food waste)
 
• Garden waste (brown bins) service to remain unchanged
 
I am pleased that residents’ views were taken on board and the department is writing to all residents to update them about the revised arrangements.

Changes to Waste & Recycling collections : roadshows

Further to my latest update about the changes to general waste and recycling arrangements in a large part (but not all) of the West End, the council has arranged roadshows for residents (and for those in parts of Broughty Ferry similarly affected).
 
There will be two events at Blackness Primary School – details below – all residents welcome :
 

Wednesday meetings

Today has been a busy day, including:
 

*   A briefing at lunchtime for councillors whose wards are affected by Phase 1 of the new bin collection and recycling arrangements and an opportunity for us to raise questions and seek assurances for constituents.   Any resident with a concern or a query is welcome to either call me direct on 459378 or the Environment Department on 436289.

 

*   An afternoon meeting of the Time2Give timebank committee for the West End.   Timebanking is a means of exchange used to organise people and organisations around a purpose, where time is the principal currency.  For every hour participants ‘deposit’ in a timebank, perhaps by giving practical help and support to others, they are able to ‘withdraw’ equivalent support in time when they themselves are in need.    In each case the participant decides what they can offer. 

It is a great, community-based, concept and Time2Give is going from strength to strength.   Much credit recently goes to Claire who has voluntarily been managing the timebank recently.    You can read more about Time2Give here.
 
*   Tonight I attended a meeting at Blackness Library organised by the Environment Department for residents in Blackness Road west of Ashbank Road (on the north side and east of Balgay Road) about how the new bin/recycling arrangements are proposed to affect them.    It was a useful discussion and I was pleased that council officers listened carefully to the points made by residents and promised to take them on board in the roll-out of the new arrangements.

Changes to Waste & Recycling collections : an update

I have previously advised residents about the changes to bin collections and recycling arrangements covering much of the West End, now being rolled out.   The area covered in the current roll-out (Phase 1) covers quite a convoluted boundary but is roughly speaking the area west of Peddie Street to the Invergowrie boundary, including Logie, but currently not including Pentland and Tullideph.   
 
The council website has more details about the new arrangements.   Delivery of detailed information to residents affected commences today (being delivered between now and 6th March) and the Director of Environment at the City Council has advised me of the following timetable for the phasing in of the new arrangements for Phase 1 (with the exception of a very small number of properties in Clayhills Drive and within the Ninewells Hospital grounds which were switched over last December) :
Any resident with queries can contact the Environment Department on 436289 or e-mail recycle@dundeecity.gov.uk.  
 
I previously mentioned the concerns raised by residents in Blackness Road west of Ashbank Road (on the north side and east of Balgay Road) about how the new arrangements are proposed to affect them.   I am pleased to note than an additional consultation meeting has been arranged by the Environment Department for these residents this week – 7pm on Wednesday (25th) at Blackness Library.

Changes to Waste & Recycling collections : Blackness Road

Further to my update about the Community Council meeting last night, here’s the detail of what is being proposed in relation to new waste & recycling collections in part of Blackness Road.

 

Over a long period, I have highlighted to the City Council residents’ complaints about wheelie bins sitting permanently on the pavement, which not only causes difficulty for pedestrians particularly those using wheelchairs, motorised scooters or with prams, but has potentially serious safety issues as we saw in 2010 in Peddie Street.

 
With the roll-out of new bin and recycling arrangements now taking place in a large part of the West End, I asked the City Council’s Environment Department if this will tackle the wheelie bins on the pavements problem in part of the tenement section of Blackness Road.
 
I have now been updated as follows and would welcome feedback from any resident about what is proposed :
 
“The proposed service provision for the Blackness Road properties (tenements) in phase 1 is as follows:
 
226 – 248 (even). Reconfiguration of wheeled bins within each recess area. Wheeled bins for refuse, DMR (paper, card, plastics, metals) and glass to be provided. Bins will be shared by all residents and collected, emptied and returned by the refuse collectors.
250 – 274 (even), 219 – 295 (odd). Properties to be served by communal, on-street eurobins to be situated on the carriageway. Eurobins to be provided for the collection of refuse, DMR (paper, card, plastics, metals) and glass. All existing wheeled bins for refuse, paper/card and green boxes will be uplifted and removed from service.  
In terms of the food waste provision, all of the above properties will be served by on-street wheeled bins, each to be stored within a bespoke housing unit. The units will be located either on the carriageway or footway, appropriate to the location and width of footway.”

As I indicated last night, getting the wheelie bins off the pavement will be welcomed, although the need for eurobins west of Ashbank Road on the north side of Blackness Road should be reconsidered, as there is no wheelie bins on pavement issue there.

Bin collection changes – consultation update

Further to my article earlier today about bin collection changes, the City Council’s Environment Director has sent the following useful update to give reassurance about consultation with residents:
 
“I … would confirm the following actions being undertaken with regard to consultation as we roll out the new recycling collection systems which hopefully clarifies matters and allays your concerns. 
Our staff have undertaken a survey of every single tenemental and flatted property across the city to establish what we believe is the most effective “design” which will enable us to provide the new services. In certain cases this is relatively straightforward and requires little change to existing systems e.g. where existing Eurobins taking exclusively residual waste are to be replaced with Eurobins which will take the new range of commodities. However in other areas where a more significant change is required, or where it appears difficult to accommodate the new systems due to space difficulties, we are carrying out an initial consultation exercise with affected residents, to take on board their views prior to developing the “design”.
Once we have developed the “design”, we then have a team of staff who are undertaking a door knocking exercise in advance of the roll out. Their role is to explain the proposed new systems, explain how it will work, timings etc and to answer any questions that residents may have. At the same time if there were a strong body of opinion against what is being proposed in a specific location and a viable alternative were proposed, then this feedback would be taken on board and the “design” reconsidered. I would emphasise that every single property in the city will be visited as we roll out the phased implementation. If there is no one at home when we call, then we will leave explanatory information and contact details. A revisit can be arranged if requested or alternatively we are hosting a number of local drop-in sessions for anyone to come along to in advance of the roll out, to have their questions answered. 
The above approach is being followed in the two phase 1 areas and to date we have had a lot of very positive feedback and engagement. Clearly we will keep this under review and if required will introduce changes as the roll out progresses to ensure the most effective use of the resources available to the project.”

Bin collection changes – consultation concerns

Earlier this year, I opposed the SNP administration’s policy of scrapping weekly general waste bin collections.   Although supportive of improved recycling opportunities for residents, I am concerned at the possible adverse effects of the move to fortnightly-only general waste collections – particularly in flats and multiple-occupied properties.
 
A large part of the West End, largely west of Peddie Street, is in Phase 1 of the new arrangements that will be mainly introduced next March.
 
The Environment Director last week updated councillors as follows :
 
“At present we are on-course to introduce these new services to our Phase 1 areas in March 2015, with affected residents due to receive full information on the changes early in the new year. This will include the delivery of leaflets and collection calendars, as well as visits from staff to offer information and advice, plus ongoing engagement activities at local residents groups, community organisations and tenants associations. Staff within the department have been busy attending many of these group meetings throughout the last few months, advising residents of the planned changes and answering any questions they may have. Consultation with residents of some flatted properties has also been undertaken during the last few months and the feedback we have had has informed our decisions regarding they type and location of bins at these properties.
Ahead of the March rollout, we will be introducing these new recycling services to a small number of flatted properties in both of the Phase 1 areas during November 2014. The flats have already undergone a full assessment and where required detailed consultation with residents has taken lace. and so are ready for implementation of these new services now. This small scale early action within these flatted properties in November will enable us to test our methodologies ahead of the main rollout in March, as well as providing further scope for engagement and consultation with residents.”
 
I asked for details of the early (November 2014) Phase 1 West End households and was further updated follows :
 
“Please now see below for full details of the flatted properties in your ward which will receive their waste & recycling service changes this month, ahead of the full Phase 1 introduction in March of next year.
– Pasteur Lane (no’s 1-30)
– Clayhills Drive (no’s 48-56, 60-72, 74-82 – even)
These properties will receive a number of communal containers, stored in central locations, for the collection of residual waste and the recycling of food waste, mixed recyclate (paper, card, metals, plastics), and mixed glass. In addition, an internal kitchen caddy for the collection of food waste will be provided to every householder – as well as a supply of compostable liners. All residents will receive a full information leaflet, advising on the use of the new service – this will be hand-delivered by a member of staff who will make every effort to meet residents face-to-face to offer information and advice as well as answering any questions they may have. 
Containers will be delivered during w/c 24th November, with first collections taking place during w/c 1st December.    Staff within the department will be undertaking engagement activities specific to these particular properties in the run up to the introduction of their new services, and will thereafter be monitoring the performance of the new services, promoting and encouraging their use amongst residents were necessary.
 
At present no formal consultation with residents has taken place with regard to the forthcoming changes in November. However, the (council’s) Business Process Team Leader … has discussed the changes to Pasteur Lane in detail with  the NHS property management representative responsible for this area, who advised of the new location for the communal eurobins.
The intention is not to consult with the affected residents in these areas on this occasion as the changes are considered relatively straight forward with minimal disruption to waste/recycling presentation aspect of the service, but rather to inform and engage with residents on how the new services will affect them, how to use them and where to get further information. To that end, the team and I will be engaging with residents on a 1-to-1 basis by visiting each property which is set to receive these new services in November and advise of the forthcoming changes, answer any queries & provide further information via the delivery of a detailed service information leaflet. Noting your earlier point regarding the difficulty of making contact with residents in Pasteur Lane, I can confirm that our staff will be undertaking their doorstep engagement activities at a variety of days & times in order to ensure that as many residents as possible are reached, regardless of their availability or working pattern. 
Going forward, the requirement for formal consultation will be assessed on a property by property basis and will only be required where input from residents is required to assist in the selection of the appropriate service methodology. 
Finally, to answer your query regarding Simpson Avenue & Lister Place, these were not included in the November rollout as we deliberately selected small-scale, discrete areas from both the West End & Broughty Ferry which could be accommodated within the existing route framework, hence the inclusion of additional streets will not be logistically possible at this time.”
 
I have some concerns about the lack of consultation and have replied to the Environment Department as follows :
 
“Whilst I welcome the efforts to make contact with residents in Pasteur Lane, I would comment (that) the crystal-clear commitment given at committee and by the Director to me was that there would be full consultation with affected residents as changes to services are rolled-out.   The suggestion that consultation “only be required where input from residents is required” falls very much short of that and is a rather worrying retrenchment.   Who decides which residents are consulted and which are not?   You do.    
 
Can I please have an explanation for this?   The suggestion that consultation “only be required where input from residents is required” was absolutely NOT the commitment given to Environment Committee.”

On Scotland’s Talk In – proposals to change Dundee’s bin collections

Last Sunday, I spoke on Tay AM’s “Scotland’s Talk In” about the City Council’s proposals to change Dundee’s bin collections, that would see the end of the universal weekly residual waste collections.    You can hear the programme here (13th April edition;  my contribution starts just after 1 hour 18 minutes).   I have since also spoken on Radio Tay News about the issue.
 
Yesterday, I met with the council’s Environment Director to discuss the report on this issue, going to council committee next Monday.
 
Whilst this was a useful and productive meeting and we both agree on the need to improve recycling opportunities, I made clear my view that this should not be done at the expense of the weekly general waste collection that constituents value.   The guidance to councils south of the border to authorities stresses that improving recycling need not and should not be at the expense of weekly bin collections of general waste – and highlights councils that are achieving recycling rates much better than Dundee’s but who still have a weekly general waste collection.
 
What is disappointing about the report going to committee on Monday is that the three “options” before councillors are all essentially the same – all propose fortnightly general waste collections – and that is not a real choice at all.

Proposal for Dundee weekly bin collections to be scrapped is a real concern

The proposal for Dundee weekly bin collections to be scrapped is a real concern.   
 
Opposition councillors are only now being issued with the SNP administration’s proposals and although I will await to see the full detail, my initial reaction is that there would be significant detrimental issues that would arise from getting rid of weekly general refuse collections.   
 
Dundee has a very high proportion of flatted and tenemental properties – about half the housing stock – and there will be real refuse storage difficulties if people are being expected to store a fortnight’s general refuse.
 
I am meeting the Environment Director next Wednesday to discuss these concerns.

Update on City Council’s fortnightly bin collections proposal

I have already raised concerns about the City Council SNP administration’s proposal to end weekly general waste bin collections and spoke on both Radio Tay news and Wave 102 news yesterday on the matter yesterday.    You can hear my comments on Wave 102 news by clicking ‘play’ below:
I have highlighted my concerns about the proposal to the City Council’s Director of Environment, including the high level of flatted accommodation in Dundee that has limited storage space for two weeks’ of refuse and the lack of household recycling for many households in the city.
 
He has responded as follows:
 

“I can confirm that we are currently in the process of preparing a report for committee setting out the proposed future strategy for waste collection and recycling in order to comply with new government legislation. I had hoped to have this report to committee in February however we are still in the process of finalising this report and it is now likely to be March before this comes to committee. 

There are a number of scenarios we have been considering, all of which will involve some form of weekly collections of waste being undertaken. However the key change will be around about what it is that we collect on a weekly basis. Whilst we are looking at the introduction of fortnightly collections for residual waste, I confirm that any such proposal would be on the basis that we increase the provision of recycling facilities and collections for residents across the city. Our aim is to significantly reduce the amount of residual waste that we have to collect and dispose of and to increase the amount of recyclate we collect be it paper, metals, plastics or food. The number of flatted properties that we have in the city will make introducing these changes more of a challenge, however I can confirm that we will be bringing forward proposals that will seek to deal with this matter.
I trust this helps clarify the position meantime and provide some reassurance at this stage, noting that the report on this matter is not yet finalised.”
 
I have responded:
 
“I have to say I am extremely nervous about any move away from a weekly general waste collection given our high number of flatted properties with limited storage areas.    The evidence from south of the border appears to show a move back to weekly general waste collections given the unpopularity and issues with fortnightly general waste collection.”

Save weekly bin collections

I have criticised proposals by Dundee City Council’s SNP administration to switch from weekly to fortnight bin collections in the city.
 
The SNP fortnightly bin collection proposal will be deeply unpopular with residents and will without doubt lead to problems of refuse build up in streets and in back areas of flats.    The council administration does not seem to have grasped the point that Dundee has a high density of flats and tenement accommodation much of which has limited refuse storage space, so their proposal to move away from weekly bin collections is bound to lead to problems of build up of rubbish.
 
The council’s SNP environment convener mentions that councils across the UK have moved towards fortnightly collections but he seems to have missed the point that the move away from weekly collections has proved so unpopular that south of the border the Local Government Secretary is giving financial incentives to English councils to retain or switch back to weekly collections.   
 
The Dundee City Council proposal is flying in the face of all the evidence that fortnightly collections are unpopular and cause problems with accumulated refuse and environmental issues.

Wheelie Bins

Further to the concerns I raised last year following a wheelie bin fire at 97 Peddie Street, I am pleased to see the City Council now introducing a two-month trial of removing the wheelie bins here (north end Peddie Street plus a small number of properties in Annfield Street, Corso Street and Abbotsford  Place) and replacing them with a Eurobin communal waste service.

Although in most streets the wheelie bin collection system works well, the problem of some wheelie bins sitting out permanently on the street exists in a number of streets in the West End (and in other parts of the city) and last year’s fire in Peddie Street highlights the danger this can cause.   In addition, wheelie bins left out permanently on the pavement cause an obstruction that is a particular concern for blind and partially sighted people, for parents pushing prams and for those in wheelchairs and motorised scooters.

I was therefore also pleased to learn recently from an officer in the Environment Department of the City Council that :

“I am currently undertaking a survey in the West End Ward identifying tenemental/flatted locations where wheeled bins are sitting permanently kerbside. Once this information is collated, letters will be issued to households and landlords requesting that they adhere to guidelines surrounding the presentation and return of wheeled bins. Once letters are issued I will periodically monitor these areas to assess the level of compliance following the letter drop. The letters will be issued in the coming weeks.

Community Spirit Meeting

This evening, I attended the monthly  Community Spirit Action Group meeting, the residents’ group covering Cleghorn, Ancrum, Polepark, Pentland, Tullideph and surrounding areas.

There was an excellent presentation from Jeff Halkett from the City Council’s Waste Management Department which concentrated on waste collection arrangements in the West End.

There was also a useful discussion on a number of local issues and the embryonic Community Spirit Action Group website was unveiled.   It is hoped that full information about the group and its activities will be uploaded to the new website between now and the May meeting.

Plastics recycling – an update

Back in June, I advised residents of the latest information on the recycling of plastics.   I have now received a further update from the City Council as follows :

Dear Fraser,

 

The review period for the acceptance of an expanded array of plastics is now up, and we will be moving forward with these on an ongoing basis.

A flyer specifying the new plastic types that we are able to now accept was hand delivered out to all green box residents over the summer. The details on all the plastic recycling bins at points and centres are waiting to be changed, as the new artwork had to be ordered to reflect this change. Residents are though welcome in the meantime to use all plastic recycling bins for the expanded array of plastics as follows:

Yes please:

– Plastic bottles and lids e.g. milk, fizzy juice, water, household cleaning products and shampoo bottles

– Yoghurt pots

– Food tubs

– Butter and margarine tubs

– Microwavable food trays

– Fruit punnets

– Meat trays

– Vegetable and salad trays

 

No thanks:

– Black plastic bags

– Food bags, wrapper and film

– PVC pipes and tubing

– Polystyrene

The green box flyer also stated that we can accept supermarket shopping bags. Since the review period of introducing this change our plastics re-processor has requested as few of these as possible. The best solution for recycling supermarket shopping bags will always be taking them back to their source, or reusing them.

Peddie Street fire – an update

Further to my recent item about the blaze affecting the front of 97 Peddie Street, it appears that a mattress stuffed in a wheelie bin sitting outside the tenement was set alight, possibly by a discarded cigarette.

It absolutely highlights the need to get rid of the bins that sit permanently on the pavement – this blaze could have had very serious consequences.

The Head of Waste Management at Dundee City Council has replied to me in the following terms :

” … we have arranged to meet the City Engineer regarding the installation of street bins at the above and other locations within the West End.

 
We will keep you abreast of developments following our meeting which we hope will remedy some the issues which have appeared recently in your area.”

I welcome the move to look at alternatives to the wheelie bin collection in this part of Peddie Street and will be meeting with council officers to discuss this matter further.

Peddie Street blaze concern

The blaze outside 97 Peddie Street earlier today, caused by a wheelie bin fire, has caused considerable damage to the front of the block – see above.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it highlights the dangers of wheelie bins being left out on the street – a problem discussed at a meeting I attended earlier this year with the City Council’s Waste Management Department and the Environmental Health & Trading Standards Department.


The north end of Peddie Street was highlighted as one of the areas where bins are being left permanently on the street and it does have to be said that the council has made good progress in a number of streets in the West End, in terms of getting these bins off the pavement.

I have today contacted both departments requesting a meeting further discuss the wheelie bin issue in Peddie Street. Tayside Fire & Rescue today rightly pointed out that, if the fire was a deliberate act, it had the potential to put lives at risk.

 

Last couple of days

Yesterday, I attended an informal cross-party meeting at the City Council, on the revenue budget for 2010/11, attended by the SNP and Conservative group leaders, the administration’s finance spokesperson, the Lord Provost, the Chief Executive, Director of Finance and myself, representing the Liberal Democrats.

As I indicated to the Courier thereafter, I felt the meeting was constructive, although I have sought clarification of a number of savings that are being proposed.

My greatest area of concern about the 2010/11 budget is the reduction in Fairer Scotland Fund budgets, resulting in the removal of funding from a number of excellent projects in the city. I was very concerned to learn today that one project whose funding has been removed (Dundee Employment and Aftercare Project) has been refused permission to put its case to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee next Monday. I have written to the City Council’s Chief Executive making clear my disquiet at this decision and calling for a rethink. If DEAP is not given leave to speak to councillors at committee next Monday, I intend to move suspension of council Standing Orders to allow DEAP to speak.

On another matter, I had a positive meeting this morning with senior Waste Management officers and the SNP Convener of Housing, Dundee Contract Services and Environmental Services about bulky uplifts policy and charging. It is around 10 years since the council’s bulky uplifts working group reported, and I had suggested that a review of policy should now be undertaken. We met today to discuss this and had a useful exchange of views about the issues, including looking at other authorities’ good practice through benchmarking (for example, some councils have concessionary pricing or free uplifts for some residents, such as those on low incomes, the elderly, etc) and improving the recycling effort.


This afternoon, I attended the council’s Scrutiny Committee, where various Care Commission reports were discussed.

I was greatly saddened to learn earlier today that Jim Begg, Treasurer of Blackness Area Residents’ Association – BARA, passed away this morning after a short illness. Jim was not only a stalwart of BARA but also a thoroughly nice person and he’ll be sadly missed.

Latest updates …

A few Thursday updates :

* This morning, along with councillor colleagues, I had a very useful meeting with the Waste Management Department and the Environmental Health & Trading Standards Department about the problems of refuse presentation at various locations. This gave the opportunity to raise issues in specific streets in the West End where residents have complained about poor refuse presentation or wheelie bins being left out on the street permanently. The officers present gave very useful updates on their various initiatives to help tackle this problem, that is a source of many complaints from constituents.

* Further to Tavish Scott’s visit to Dundee yesterday, you can read the article about this in today’s Press and Journal by going to http://tinyurl.com/tavishpandj.

* I recently asked for additional grit bins for the north end of Thomson Street and the top end of Tait’s Lane. I am pleased to advise that the City Engineer updated me this morning as follows :

“The update to the grit bin issue in Tait’s Lane is that Tayside Contracts have been asked to set out a grit bin on the grassed area in the car park at 38 Tait’s Lane.
In Thomson Street, an order has been raised for the placing of a small grit bin on the east side at the top.”

Changes to bin collection arrangements

Back in July, I updated www.dundeewestend.com (see http://tinyurl.com/cleghorn) – and the Community Spirit residents’ group – of changes to the bin collection arrangements in parts of the Cleghorn Street area. This initially consisted of a move away from traditional small bins in some parts of Pitfour Street, City Road, Rosebery Street and Benvie Road and their replacement by wheelie bins – and it was intended to introduce communal ‘eurobin’ style containers thereafter at other properties in the area, where a wheelie bin collection was not practical.
I am now advised that, with effect from a week on Monday (19th October), communal eurobins will be provided at the following locations :
Pitfour Street – 1 – 23 (odd), 22 – 60 (even)
Benvie Road – 26
Rosebery Street – 21 – 29 (odd)
Letters have recently been issued to residents affected advising them of the new arrangements. The transfer to the new communal bins, which are being introduced on a two month trial basis, should help tackle the long-standing problems of burst bags and strewn litter, and the City Council is helpfully undertaking removal of any rubbish lying in back areas of the properties affected at the time the new collection system comes into effect.

Tackling fly-tipping in the West End

An issue I have had many complaints about in recent months is the extent of fly-tipping or the dumping of old furniture and other items in parts of the West End. At meetings of the West End local community planning partnership, Tayside Fire and Rescue has highlighted that on tenement stairwells, discarded items of furniture present a real fire hazard, and fly-tipping generally is a source of complaint from the vast majority of residents who wish the area to be kept in a nice condition.
 
I am most grateful to the Waste Management Department who, earlier this week and at my request, removed fly-tipping in the Pitfour Street area – this is just one of many dozens of residents’ fly-tipping complaints I have raised with the department in the past few months.   I do have to say that the City Council’s Waste Management Department is extremely proactive and helpful at reacting to such complaints.
 
At a recent meeting of the Housing and Environmental Services Committee, I put forward a motion to seek a review of the special collections charge to see if the way in which the council deals with bulky uplifts could be improved, to reduce the instances of fly-tipping.   The issue is a city-wide one, not just a concern for the West End.
 
The bulky uplifts charge was last looked at in detail by a working group around 2000, just before I was elected to the City Council.   In the intervening years, the charge has increased significantly and I feel that a review is now needed.   
The SNP Housing & Environment Convener, in all fairness, agreed to meet with myself and the Head of Waste Management to look further at the issue and I have suggested that the other council political groups are invited to participate in discussions.    These are planned to take place in the next few weeks.   I think every effort must be made to tackle fly-tipping in Dundee and an all-party consensus approach is undoubtedly the way forward.

Tackling graffiti in the West End

Today’s “Courier” has an article about the increasing graffiti problem and assurances I have received from the City Council’s Waste Management Department that further steps were being taken to tackle the issue. Go to http://tinyurl.com/dundeegraffiti to read the article.
Let’s be clear – graffiti is pure vandalism – it damages both public and private property and in the past few weeks it has been the subject of by far the most complaints I have received from constituents in the West End. There have been complaints about graffiti vandalism from right across the West End Ward – from Marketgait in the east to the city boundary in the west – but it’s a city wide issue.

Following a spate of graffiti complaints earlier this week in the West End, the Council’s Cleansing Services Manager advised me:

“At the Community Safety Partnership Operational group meeting on Tuesday I suggested we set up a short term group to look at the issues to determine if there are any further steps we can take to help combat this issue, and this will be taken forward over the coming weeks.

“Discussions have taken place with the Criminal Justice section, and agreement has been reached for community service people to be involved in painting the media cabinets. We anticipate this will start within a month or so. We are also providing graffiti removal packs to community groups to remove low level graffiti.”

I welcome this – it will add to the good work in terms of graffiti removal by the Council’s Anti-Graffiti Squad. However, it is vital that all agencies including the Procurator Fiscal’s Service, Children’s Panel and the Courts take the issue very seriously. Following my raising the graffiti issue in the West End with the local Community Planning Partnership for the West End, a local working party to tackle graffiti in the West End, including local resident participation, has been established.

It is in my view – and the view of other councillors – that graffiti is a total menace and it must be proactively tackled and stamped out. I am pleased that agencies are prepared to work together to proactively tackle this vandalism.

Continuing bin collection concerns

A late blog update following a marathon council sitting tonight!
The Courier this morning covered the on-going waste management problems over public holiday arrangements and my comments about them. Go to http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2009/04/27/newsstory13031192t0.asp to view the article – I was also interviewed on Radio Tay about the issue today.
Whilst I appreciate that there is an industrial dispute that is causing the City Council difficulty in undertaking normal refuse collections on a public holiday, I was unhappy with the way this problem was managed at the April public holiday.
People with a Monday collection were simply missed out completely that week – around 100 streets in the West End were affected and I felt that simply leaving households without a bin collection for a fortnight was unacceptable.
 
In discussion with the Depute Chief Executive of the City Council and with the Head of Waste Management, I made the suggestion that a better way to tackle the problem would be to collect refuse a day late – a far fairer way to tackle the issue. However, that’s not the way the matter was tackled although I was advised that the same households who were affected at the April public holiday would not be left without a whole week’s collection if the industrial dispute was unresolved by the start of May.
The Council now intends to tackle the issue at the next public holiday by dealing with Monday’s collection a day late and this time miss out the Tuesday collection entirely. This affects around 90 streets in the West End and I have been in correspondence with the department about my concerns about this approach as it will lead to another fifth of the city being without any waste collection at all that week.
At council committee tonight, I sought assurances that any problems caused by – for example – black bags ripped open by seagull etc, would be swiftly attended to and I was given that assurance.

Bin collection

This morning’s “Courier” has a follow-up item about my concerns regarding the way Dundee City Council handled last week’s bin collection problems by simply missing out the Monday collection – see http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2009/04/14/newsstory12951363t0.asp.
The Council has assured me that should the industrial dispute be unresolved by the time of the May public holiday, a way will be found to ensure that it is not the same householsers who again find their refuse lying uncollected for a week.
However, the hope must be that the dispute is settled long before the public holiday at the start of May.