Costly new Smart bins are looking dirty and unloved in Central Milton Keynes, say critics

The solar powered bins cost more than £5,000 each less than a year ago

New Smart bins installed at the city centre less than a year ago are already in "an awful state", say members of the public.

MK Council paid for 20 of the state-of-the-art bins last year in a bid to keep the city centre clean, green and free of litter.

Their contents are crushed and compacted several times a day using the solar energy they collect, and between them, the bins can take five times more rubbish than the standard bins across CMK.

The new solar bins are looking pretty grubby

They even have a monitoring system, so the council knows when they need to be emptied.

Their implementation meant many old bins were removed, at a rate of several old bins removed for every one new smart bin.

But this week photos of the Smart bins were posted on social media, with the comment: "At a cost of over £5,000 each and unveiled by councillors less than four months ago, the new solar powered compact bins haven’t been cleaned once, so have become nothing more than an expensive eyesore and a public health hazard."

Conservative councillors, who criticised the cost of the bins in the first place, have agreed.

One has already been graffitied

Local Tory leader Cllr Alex Walker said: "They might be smart, but they can't wash themselves. These new bins don't give MK Council an excuse not to keep CMK clean and tidy. This change has meant lots of old bins were removed, 10 bins for every one new bin. And yet the new ones are left in an awful state.

"They are not being maintained and residents are angry at the state of them."

Cllr Walker added: "More are on the way, but litter seems to be as bad in CMK as it ever has been. MK is looking tired and unloved, and residents are in their right to be angry about it as they face their 8th year of consecutive council tax rises."

In total 39 Smart bins were installed in Mk last year. Many were at Central Milton Keynes, while others are in Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, Stony Stratford, Newport Pagnell, Olney, Woburn Sands, Wolverton and New Bradwell.

The bins looked very smart when they were installed last year

Cllr Jennifer Wilson Marklew, Labour's Cabinet member for climate action and sustainability, said at the time: “The Progressive Alliance is determined to keep the streets of Milton Keynes green and tidy, and this is just one way we’re achieving that.”

Council leader Pete Marland said: “The nature of a bin is that they take rubbish and that means they do get dirty. The new smart bins are cleaned on a regular basis by our contractor Serco. The extra capacity of the Smart bins mean they can take more waste and they are emptied only when full."

He added: "We’ve been saying for a while that MK Conservatives need Facebook to tell them what to think. It really is fairly pathetic that in the middle of a massive spike of Covid cases, retailers suffering, electricity bills rising, a cost of living crisis and a Prime Minister who partied while we all locked down, the best the local Tories can do is desperately search Facebook comments to talk MK down.

"Not many cities replace House of Fraser with Harrods, so I’d suggest that rather than spend time on Facebook looking for problems, Cllr Walker gets out and sees how amazing our city centre is and how we’re bucking the national trend and helping the city to thrive.”