Emptying the bins is one of the most important things Cambridge City Council does. The council has an executive councillor for bins, that role is currently held by Cllr Peter Roberts (Labour, Abbey). A bonus allowance of £8,346 per year is offered to each executive councillor.
Cambridge City Council has been missing bin collections and, commendably, issuing regular updates what’s been going wrong; the latest at the time of writing is for yesterday, Wednesday 26 April 2017, and states:
We have not collected green bins on Stourbridge Grove and Brampton Road.
We also have not collected blue bins today on St Matthews Street.
There have been many tens of these reports over the last few weeks following changes described as streamlining and an “efficiency drive”.
People have been complaining on social media; with one resident saying they were left with full black bins for nearly a month:
— Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) April 6, 2017
The cancellation of a planned full council meeting on the 20th of April has denied the public and elected representatives the opportunity to formally question Cllr Roberts on what is happening and what he is doing about it.
I spoke to Executive councillor Peter Roberts outside the guildhall after a meeting of the Cam Conservators where he serves as a council appointed Conservator:
Richard Taylor: Cllr Roberts, can I just ask you about the state of bin emptying in Cambridge? What is the problem at the moment and what are you doing about it?
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: Hi Richard, How are you?
Richard Taylor: Alright thanks.
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: At the minute in Cambridge we’ve got a 99.6% emptying rate. We’re doing an awful lot; it’s improving week on week, which is good to see.
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: To begin with, where we’ve had issues that have been highlighted it is mainly related to flats, now there’s two issues obviously there, one is that there’s an issue which is when bins are blocked so it’s more to do with clearing the space and the actual emptying of the bin and the bin people can’t come along, for example if you’ve got a big recycling bin and its blocked with black bin waste then obviously that needs to be removed by a different group, a different team goes out and that’s something we’re working an awful lot on.
Richard Taylor: There are also things which aren’t flats aren’t there. We’ve seen council press releases, regularly, which is excellent,
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: We are being very open.
Richard Taylor: Yes you are being very open with the press releases, and I’ve said that’s brilliant, but regularly we’re seeing streets missed.
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: Over the last twelve days or so it has greatly come down; most days now we don’t have a street missed, it’s more an individual bin that has been missed, that’s the issue, where for example where a crew isn’t used to the round and a bin has been missed, or obviously with Easter and different things happening people have either there’s slight confusion over the day the bin is supposed to go out and so on, so if you look at the missed bin tab on the council obviously it has greatly reduced over the last two weeks or so
Richard Taylor: One more question before you go?
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: That’s absolutely fine, absolutely fine.
Richard Taylor: So why are the statements coming from officers and not from you as the executive councillor?
Executive Councillor for Bins Peter Roberts: Two reasons. Purdah and secondly I’ve had to be away [councillor Roberts went on to explain a member of his family has been ill; he asked me not to publish the details of what he said there, so I haven't].
It appears councillor Roberts doesn’t think he is presiding over a major crisis.
Some Recent Council Admissions of Missed Bin Collections
We have not completed black bins today on Cowper Road, Neville Road and Chartfield Road.
We also have not emptied blue bins on Baldock Way, Hills Avenue, Hills Road and green bins on Coniston Road, Derby Road, Purbeck Road, Baldock Way.
Outstanding from Friday 10 March are black bins on Union Lane, Pearl Close, Kinross Road, Sterling Close, Edinburgh Road, Inverness Close, Elmfield Road, Eastfields, Ashfield.
We have not completed blue bins today on Lyndewode Road, Mawson Road, Montreal Road, Montreal Square and Natal Road.
We are also to return to outstanding bins on Austin Drive – all bins, Ekin Walk – black bins and Temple Moor Close, Glebe Road, Defreville Avenue, Highworth Avenue – green bins.
We have not completed blue bins today on Hertford Street, Magrath Avenue, Magdalene Street, Thompson Lane, New Park Street, Thompson’s Lane, Park Parade, Lower Park, Portugal Place, Chesterton Road (between Alpha Street and Magdalene Street) and St Johns Road.
We have not completed black bins today on Malcolm Street, Kingfisher Way, Wilkinson Place, Richard Foster Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Fitzwilliam Road, Glenalmond Avenue and Clarendon Road.
Green bins have not been collected today from Canterbury Street, St Stephens Place, Westfield Lane, Priory Street, Benson Street, North Street, Westland Terrace, and St Christopher Avenue.
Black bins have not been collected today from Brimley Road, Wavell Way, Roland Close, Cunningham Close, Essex Close, Durnford Way, Wynborne Close, Redfern Close, Montgomery Road and part of Alex Wood Road.
We have not collected black bins on Barrows rd up to Pursan Road, Burrow Close, Trumpington Road (from Person Road to Long Road), Trumpington Road (from Long Road to Leys School), Lattham Road, Lattham Close, Chaucer Road, Chaucer Close, Southacre Drive.
We have not collected blue bins today on Storeys Way and Herdert Street.
There are also outstanding green bin collections from Tuesday 11 April on Rustat Avenue, Davy Road, Corrie Road, Rustat Road (from Rustat Avenue to William Smith Close).
We are sorry to say that some green bins have not been emptied today in Trumpington on the following streets:
Beech Drive, Martin Road,Cedar Road,Harness close,Barn Road,Glebe Farm Drive,Tebbit Street,Elm road,Spinney Road
We apologise for the inconvenience caused. If you are affected, please leave your bins accessible on the kerbside for collection and a crew will return as soon as possible.