Privatisation of Dublin bin collection a 'disaster'

Tue, Jan 24, 2012, 00:00

THE TRANSFER of Dublin city’s bin collection service to private waste company Greyhound has been a “wholesale disaster”, a meeting of Dublin City Council has heard.

Councillors of all parties last night said they had been inundated with complaints from constituents whose bins had not been collected since Greyhound began operating the service last week.

Greyhound took over bin collections from the council on January 16th following a sale agreed last December. The company has denied it missed bin collections and said any incidents of bins or waste bags left uncollected on the street were the result of “customer misunderstanding” of the collection calendar.

Residents were yesterday continuing to report problems with the service, with some saying they had yet to receive any collection a week after the new service had begun and others saying they still had not received any literature in relation to the changeover.

Sinn Féin councillor Larry O’Toole said the transfer had been badly mismanaged. “This handover has been a wholesale disaster,” he added. “Our former customers and the people of this city deserve far more respect than has been shown to them.”

Fine Gael councillor Mary O’Shea said Greyhound and the council had “made a mess” of the changeover. Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick described it as a “low point in the history of the city council”. Sinn Féin’s Micheál Mac Donncha said Greyhound’s claim that it had not missed collections was a “deliberate falsehood”.

Christy Bourke (Ind) said confusion over collections had created chaos in the city and the failure to collect bags had left streets strewn with rubbish and public litter bins overflowing.

Paddy Bourke (Lab) asked if the service should have been sold to a private company without the sanction of the councillors, given that the disposal of council assets was a power held by councillors, not council management.

Damien O’Farrell (Ind) said that in the Clontarf area alone, he had received more than 90 complaints in relation to Greyhound.

Brian McDowell (Lab) pointed out that when the Fingal County Council waste service was privatised, there had been a three-month changeover period.

Other councillors described the situation as a “disgrace” and a “debacle”. Several councillors raised concerns that residents had not been told they did not have to sign up to the Greyhound service and could seek alternatives.

The letter sent to residents in relation to the changeover was a joint communique from the council and Greyhound and makes no reference to the availability of other service providers.

Oxigen, which collects commercial waste in Dublin, said it would offer a service to former council customers. It is offering three options: €20 a month for a fortnightly black and green bin collection; an annual charge of €60 plus €8.85 for each collection or €14 for each collection.

Greenstar, which collects bins in Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, said it was not operating in the city at the moment but was “actively considering” entry into the market.

Panda, which operates waste collection in Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and is one of the few private firms to have already won business from the council, with about 2,000 existing city customers, said it was not taking on any new customers at present.