Rubbish start to New Year

editorial image

AS MILTON Keynes disappeared under a mountain of rubbish this week, council bosses were left licking their wounds and blaming… fate.

Households everywhere sported overflowing bins containing turkey carcasses and piles of bags, bulging with Christmas wrapping paper.

Meanwhile street corners became unofficial dumping grounds for even more debris – and breeding grounds for rats.

Some areas went a record 15 days without a single rubbish or recycling collection.

One resident said: “The city looks like a Third World country with all the great piles of sacks everywhere.”

Other people bombarded the council and contractors SERCO with complaints and slammed officials for not sticking to their carefully distributed Christmas refuse collection schedule.

Even the government’s communities minister Bob Neill joined the black sack brigade by firing off a letter to council leaders all over the land, ordering them to clear the “unhealthy backlog”.

Already one councillor has asked for an investigation into the Christmas crisis.

Middleton councillor Sam Crooks said: “I am not necessarily blaming anyone but we need to know what went wrong so lessons can be learned for the future.”

But this week the council’s environment chief Andy Hudson told the Citizen: “We are sorry people were inconvenienced but we really did do the best we possibly could.”

The first problem was the bad weather in the week leading up to Christmas, he said.

“When the vehicles could not physically get round to pick up the rubbish, we put the crews on to shovelling snow from pedestrian areas and shops.

“This meant people could at least get their Christmas shopping.”

Two and a half refuse collection days were lost because of the weather.

But then, because of bank holidays and the fact that Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Saturdays – Serco’s overtime day – crews simply could not catch up.

“Even if we managed to collect the rubbish on those days we would have nowhere to put it because the landfill sites were closed,” said Mr Hudson.

Since then crews have been working flat out and the backlog should be cleared by tomorrow Friday, he said.

He added: “We feel the criticism is a little unfair.

“It was nobody’s fault –everything conspired against us at a time when everyone has twice as much rubbish as normal.”