Bridgend bin complaints up 1,400% after rubbish changes

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Media captionTown councillor Freya Sykes and country councillor Tim Thomas criticise the changes to bin collections

Complaints about bin collections rose by more than 1,400% in Bridgend in the aftermath of controversial changes.

The authority was inundated with complaints after waste was left on the kerbside during the roll out of the new system in June.

Across Wales, formal complaints about bins have more than doubled in the past four years.

Bridgend council said it was "inevitably" going to get complaints, but recycling was now at a record high.

Since March 2014, the number of complaints to Welsh councils about bins, waste and recycling has risen from 1,244 to 4,719, according to the councils that responded to a BBC Freedom of Information request.

They included everything from late or missed collections to bin workers' behaviour and delays for replacement bins and bags.

It comes after a number of local authorities, including Conwy, Bridgend and Gwynedd, reduced the frequency of collections, in a bid to hit Welsh Government recycling targets and avoid fines.

Image copyright Nicola Roberts
Image caption Rubbish has been seen piling up on the Wildmill estate in Bridgend, where resident share communal bins

The majority of the complaints made so far this financial year were in Bridgend, which has received 3,226 complaints since April - 35 times more than the 91 made in 2014-15.

Since June, homes with fewer than five occupants have been limited to throwing out two bags of non-recyclable waste every fortnight under a new scheme, run by private contractor Kier.

The new scheme has different coloured sacks for cardboard, paper, plastics, caddies for glass and food waste and purple bags for nappies.

But residents complained after missed collections and the council admitted the delays had been "unacceptable".

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Media captionOne resident filmed refuse collectors throwing pre-sorted recycling into the back of a bin lorry

Over the Christmas period the council is allowing residents to put out one extra bag of rubbish, but seven months since the changes residents said this was not enough as the extra bag is for wrapping paper, which the council says cannot be recycled.

One Wildmill resident said rubbish was piling up as about 40 homes shared communal recycling bins, which were not being emptied often enough.

"Over Christmas it will be a nightmare, last year there was rubbish flying around everywhere because all the bins were full and this year they are allowing everyone to be able to put out one extra blue bag... but this has been a real bugbear on the estate for a long time," she said.

Image copyright Freya Bletsoe

Freya Bletsoe, independent town councillor for Oldcastle Ward, said: "It's genuinely disgusting that a first-world country where citizens are paying for a waste service are having to put up with said waste piling high in their streets. It's not acceptable."

Resident Jocelyn Morgan said the whole system was "not fit for purpose", with rubbish ending up all over the streets and food waste bins full of maggots.

A spokesman for Bridgend council said: "With more than five million collections a year, the council was inevitably going to receive complaints while introducing such a huge scheme.

"These include a 74% recycling rate recorded between July and September, a recycling increase of 254 tonnes at community recycling centres between June and August, a 957-tonne drop in landfill waste and 278 tonnes of nappies, which have been converted into fibre boards, acoustic panelling and more."

In Cardiff, the number of complaints fell from 350 in 2014-15 to 135 in this financial year, but in Merthyr they more than doubled from 353 to 721.

Almost half of Wales' 22 local authorities carry out spot checks to see if residents are putting out the right waste, with at least five fining residents who fail to sort their rubbish correctly.

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