Bin crews pull together in TV show backlash

Wigan Council binmen during their rounds at Appley Bridge, from left, Darren Stephens, Brian Stewart and Phil Haddock
Wigan Council binmen during their rounds at Appley Bridge, from left, Darren Stephens, Brian Stewart and Phil Haddock
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A CONTROVERSIAL documentary has put the borough’s binmen in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Since Don’t Blame the Council, which showed one of the crews wrestling during a break while one was apparently sleeping on the job, was aired last month Wigan Council’s waste operatives have been dealing with a backlash from the borough’s residents.

Driver Brian Stewart

Driver Brian Stewart

The ITV programme followed one of the council’s crews as they went about their daily business but the show has been accused of suggesting all they did was play table tennis and darts all day.

But some of the borough’s binmen think the show was edited unfairly and did not show how hard they work.

Brian Stewart, who has been driving a bin lorry at the council for six years, said: “ I was not very happy. We’ve not been put in the right light. I feel sorry for the lads who were on there because I know they do a good job.

“Everybody walks about 15-16 miles a day and they made out like they just do nothing all day. There is about 45 minutes when we finish the rounds where I go to the tip but the loaders are not allowed to come with me.

I didn’t put us in a good light – it wasn’t good at all. It was embarrassing more than anything

Darren Stephens

“It takes me 45 minutes to unload and wash the wagon down so they have that time when there is nothing they can do.

“You see lads working hard, sweating or in the rain – they didn’t show any of that.”

Some of the binmen have reported being verbally abused on their rounds due to the way the show portrayed them.

“I haven’t had much but some other drivers have had it really bad,” Brian said.

Phil Haddock in action

Phil Haddock in action

“We’ve been called lazy binmen and things like that but someone I know went the pub on a Friday night and he walked out after half an hour. They were all laughing - he said everyone was at him so he just walked out because he couldn’t take it anymore.”

The programme was billed as a look at how Wigan Council was managing in the face of huge government cuts but was criticised for showing council employees raising concerns about The Deal and used subtitles for one of the residents featured.

Since it aired, environmental services manager Terry Dunn and PR boss Chris Dunbar have been relieved of their duties while an internal investigation is carried.

For loader Darren Stephens, the programme was too cringeworthy to watch.

“I didn’t put us in a good light – it wasn’t good at all. It was embarrassing more than anything,” he said.

“It was cringeworthy to be honest. My wife and my family watched it but I couldn’t. It was crass TV.

“I am not surprised by the reaction, because if I was a member of the public, I would have reacted the same way as well. But it is all down to the way it has been edited.”

More than 12 million bins are collected in the borough every year by around 250 members of staff and 42 wagons. In June, Wigan Council’s bin crews successfully collected 99.96 per cent of all bins which were presented correctly

Phil Haddock works for an agency and steps in when a crew member is on holiday but he too has been affected by the show.

He said: “It has affected us on rounds and things because you get a lot of people stopping us and saying it’s terrible but then we have had some positives from people who know it is not like that.

“It was a misrepresentation of the job that we do. I think they showed them putting about two bins on when really we are out here all day.”