COUNCIL chiefs have moved to quell a public outcry after Wigan borough’s bin collections were affected by the weather.
Scheduled collections were cancelled on Monday due to health and safety concerns, leaving residents in areas of Hawkley Hall, Poolstock and Worsley Mesnes waiting more than a month for some of their bin services.
Concerned residents took to contacting the council via social networking sites in great numbers, worried that their uncollected waste would begin to pose a health hazard and asking the council to review their collection policies.
Hawkley Hall resident Vicky Johnson, 50, contacted the Observer to say that her recyclable bin was already full from after Christmas.
She said: “It is ridiculous that they don’t come back out after adverse weather conditions, the policy should be reviewed. I can understand that it was dangerous on that day but they should come out another day, not just wait for the next cycle.
“All this rubbish piled up outside everyone’s houses is a fire hazard.”
The council has issued an apology to those residents whose collections were missed.
Terry Dunn, director for the environment, said: “We’d like to apologise for the disruption to waste collections this week caused by the weather. We’ve worked really hard to keep that disruption to a minimum but I know many residents have been inconvenienced and I’d like to say how sorry we are.
“However, given the amount of snow that has fallen and the conditions of many of the minor and residential roads across Wigan, we had little choice other than to suspend our services on Monday.
“The following day, our service resumed and most rounds were completed with a limited amount of disruption in areas our vehicles could not access. This was the case for the rest of the week.”
A Worsley Mesnes resident, who wished not to be named, said: “Let’s face it, they’re telling us to take our bins back in. There are mice all over the place and we can only get a few extra bags collected with the black bins next time. It’s damned unfair.
“I’m 70 years old and have been told the only way I can get more food wastage bags is to go into the town centre. That’s not easy for me.”
Another elderly resident contacted the Observer to explain it was difficult for him to take his bins back in again.
The 76-year-old said: “I have a steep drive and those bins are heavy when they’re full. I’m going to struggle getting them back up the drive. It is out of order, I’m unhappy with the way I’m being treated.”
Mr Dunn added: “I know it is frustrating for residents when we cannot collect their bins. But I hope they will recognise we had little choice. Our waste collection vehicles weigh around 26 tonnes. Sending them down icy roads would have been irresponsible.
“Our collection crews were immediately redeployed to other duties including clearing snow from footpaths and gritting pavements.
“For those whose collection has been missed, we will not be returning until their scheduled collection. For those whose black bin collection has been missed, they can leave side rubbish next to their bin and we will take it away at the next collection.
“Unfortunately, if your recyclable bin was missed, we will not be accepting side waste.
“If residents have excess rubbish, we advise them to take it to their nearest household waste recycling centre. Please check they are open before travelling.
“The decision not to return to missed collections until the next scheduled collection is in line with council policy, which was reviewed last year when the waste collection changes were introduced.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to offer an alternative collection and cannot afford to offer an extra collection. I hope residents will understand we are operating within strict financial constraints - as are all local government services.”
n Meanwhile, Bryn counciilor, Gary Wilkes spent the weekend collecting bags of rubbish from local residents in his ward. He then took the refuse in his trailer to Kirkless Tip.
His decision was prompted by a deluge of complaints from households after collections were postponed because of the weather.
He said: “I have received a lot of complaints because of this, blaming the council for not trying to make amends.
“I sympathise with the local residents but also with the council – it is plainly not their fault.
“We had a heavy snow fall Monday morning, so as a way of playing peace maker, I was out on Saturday morning with my trailer to collect any excess rubbish from local residents.
“This is just a one-off to try to help both parties.”