Glasgow election - what each party wants to do about bins

Bin collections are always one of the key issues for councils to deal with – and in Glasgow the problem has seen litter piled up on the streets, strike action by cleansing staff and horrifying stories about plagues of rats.

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The city’s SNP group has said the pandemic has caused many of the challenges faced by the cleansing service but opposition members claimed covid just exposed the effect of years of budget cuts.

All the main parties in the city have set out how they plan to deal with waste, and recycling, in their manifestos. Here’s what they are promising:

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SNP

The SNP group’s manifesto states there has been “significant investments” in waste management over the past five years, including new bins in back courts, increased recycling capacity and a replacement programme for street litter bins.

“With new vehicles on order and work underway to upgrade cleansing depots, there will be significant progress in the years ahead too,” it adds.

There have been lots of complaints about rubbish in Glasgow.

The manifesto pledges to modernise outdated refuse and cleaning systems “inherited from previous Labour administrations”, with new technology in operations vehicles to “better manage tasks, prevent missed collections and ensure responsiveness to issues where these arise”.

It promises to upgrade the entire refuse collection fleet to modern, zero emission vehicles by 2030 and invest £20m in creating new council depots or refurbishing current depots so that they are “fit for purpose”.

Candidates want to build on the council’s communications campaign with more direct-to-household communications to encourage appropriate waste disposal and invest in new processing facilities to “allow us to uplift and recycle a wider range of plastics”.

Increasing the number of neighbourhood recycling points and delivering a new rolling programme of neighbourhood deep cleans every year to remove weeds and litter, and keep streets in good condition, are also in the manifesto and the SNP wants to continue moving the council towards longer-term roads and pavements solutions, away from “short-term fixes”.

Labour

The city’s Labour group has said it will prioritise “cleaning up our city”, including creating 250 additional jobs in cleansing services.

“The city is in the grip of a cleaning crisis,” the manifesto stated. “Every community in our city is impacted — domestic rubbish not uplifted, streets not swept, street bins overflowing. Glasgow Labour will invest in the people and equipment needed to clean up our city and keep it clean.”

Labour wants to upgrade cleansing vehicles and make the fleet greener as well as improve the recycling plant. It would axe the charge for bulk uplift collections to “combat fly-tipping across the city”. Candidates are pleading to “renew and refresh” an environmental task force “to clean up our city and create over 400 training opportunities”.

The manifesto added: “The first meeting that a Glasgow Labour leader of the council will arrange will be with the officials in charge of cleansing services. Immediate measures will be put in place to tackle the cleansing crisis from day one of a Glasgow Labour administration.”

Glasgow Labour would also appoint a city convener for a Clean Glasgow to lead on cleansing and recycling and would launch a review of the management of the cleansing service to “learn from the best practice of others”.

Communities will be engaged in shaping the delivery of services in their area, the manifesto added. “We will improve the reporting system for potholes and pavement faults making sure repairs are done efficiently and effectively.”

Greens

Glasgow’s Green group manifesto states rubbish “piling on our streets is unacceptable” and promises to change the “council knows best” culture by co-designing solutions to Glasgow’s waste crisis with communities and workers. The party pledges to invest more in frontline waste and recycling and in training, supporting and empowering workers properly.

Green councillors would review the council’s reporting systems so they give accurate and timely information on missed bin collections, the manifesto adds, and make it easier for people to re-use and recycle, by supporting local repair hubs, community re-use organisations, and increasing the range of materials which can be recycled at home.

The group also wants to guarantee the same recycling opportunities for people living in flats and reduce plastic waste by supporting zero waste shops in local neighbourhoods. Greens would explore opportunities to introduce new local environmental levies, and lobby for national levies, like the carrier bag charge, to be collected locally. They want to help local businesses reduce packaging and find recyclable and biodegradable alternatives.

Conservatives

Glasgow’s Conservatives have said they want to “bring pride and greatness back to Glasgow by tackling the problems of missed bin collections, litter, fly-tipping and other environmental problems which blight the city”. They would scrap the bulk uplift charge to “ensure bulk waste is recycled in the correct manner and is not at risk of being dumped illegally”.

The party wants to invest in a ‘Clean Up Glasgow’ apprenticeship programme to train up the next generation of parks and cleansing workers in Glasgow. It would reverse the decision to change the green bin collection to every three weeks and review recycling services in the city.

Conservatives would also set up an environmental enforcement team to identify and act against those who commit fly-tipping, littering and environmental crimes. The manifesto also states the group would “demand an immediate ‘deep clean’ of the city” and commit to not introducing a “charge for garden waste uplift like other councils around Glasgow have already done”.

It would ensure the “toughest penalties for dog fouling are handed out to offenders” and look into how other cities and countries are tackling the issue.