Council official reacts to McIlroy criticism

A MOYLE Council officer has explained how they are implementing their bin collection policy following criticism from DUP councillor Robert McIlroy who has rubbished the new procedures.

Any household which has two black bins will only have one emptied unless they fit into the criteria of having more than six people living at the address or have a medical requirement for the disposal of waste.

But Cllr Robert McIlroy (DUP) says there have been teething problems with the scheme.

He says people who are entitled to two bins have found their second bin was not emptied.

Cllr McIlroy said the Council did not have the proper communication with ratepayers on this subject and he said sticking messages onto bins is not the way to pass on information.

“Has the bin become our postman? What happens if the message blows off or is taken off by a passing child? The first call I had was from a mother with over six children in a house in Bushmills who qualify for two bins and a family with a sick in-law who also qualified for a second bin but the second bins were not dumped.

“People living in rural areas say getting bins emptied is one of the only services they get from Moyle Council for paying their rates. Where there was a doubt over whether or not to lift a bin it should have been done until a report came back in advising staff if it was right or wrong not to lift the bins.

“The whole thing has been a shambles and no commonsense was used. If we don’t communicate with ratepayers it will create a situation where waste will be carelessly put in other places,” said Cllr McIlroy who tabled the matter for discussion at a Council meeting last night (Monday) after the Times had gone to print.

Moyle Council’s Head of Technical Services, Aidan McPeake, in a statement to the Times, said: “It has been a Moyle District Council policy to collect one bin per household since the fortnightly collection schedule came into place almost ten years ago. The European Landfill Directive requires that the amount of material being sent to landfill must be reduced to 50% by 2013 and just 35% by 2020.

“We must also raise recycling and composting rates throughout the district from the current level of 35% to 40% by 2013 and to at least 50% by 2020.

“As the Council comes closer to the next dates where EU targets have to be met, it is imperative that all measures possible are taken to ensure compliance. This has been the driving force behind the recent strategic measures such as the introduction of 3,200 compost bins and 5,000 brown bins for garden waste collection throughout the district.

“A further measure introduced has been the enforcement of the one bin/household policy. Since the tracker system was introduced onto the bin lorries last summer we have been able to identify that almost 400 households have been setting out two bins for collection. If you convert this into tonnage and monetary terms then the 400 extra bins collected equates to 20 tonnes every fortnight and costs approx £1,800 for just landfill tax and gate fee.

“On this basis, Council took a decision to enforce the one bin/household policy and since mid-January all households who had presented two bins were notified by standard sticker procedure. This has always proven effective and reliable as a means of communication to the public. All relevant households were informed that only one bin would be collected in the future.

“They were given two weeks to contact the technical services department if they felt they met the criteria for an extra bin which is six or more in the household or there is a medical need.

“To date we have received 80 applications for extra bins, and stickers have been issued to those households who have met the criteria. These stickers will identify their extra bin for collection.

“We have already seen a reduction in waste going to landfill and our recycling tonnage has increased since the enforcement of the policy. So, not only is it helping to meet our targets but it is also helping to reduce costs to the Council which is of utmost importance in the current economic climate,” said Mr McPeake.