Scottish Borders Council chiefs have been forced to admit they miss more than 2,000 bin collections each year.
Figures released through a freedom of information request found that over the last five years council bin crews have failed to empty more than 11,000 bins from 50,000 households - the number of bins missed each year rising since 2014, from 1,803 bins to 2,758 so far this year.
Opposition councillors lined up to criticise the figures, particularly as it is believed that Scottish Borders Council may be considering moving to three-weekly bin collections when the budget is proposed in February next year.
Leader of the opposition and Tweeddale East councillor Stuart Bell said that Scottish Borders Council officers work hard to rectify issues, but residents need to be aware of how to report missed bin collections.
He said: “I will be interested in the council’s conclusions on the long term trend. There has been a gradual introduction of food waste collections into the larger communities in the last few years, so the number of total collections may have increased at the same time as the number of missed collections has increased.
“But I am concerned to see the detail of missed bin collections. I can see that the number of missed collections is higher in the winter months when the teams can have difficulty getting round in the snow, but it is worrying that the level of missed collections never drops below 100 in any one month.”
An SBC spokesperson said its waste management service collects over four million bins each year - the number of missed bins being less than half a percent, adding: “It is not possible to determine the exact cause of any increase in missed collections but the increasingly challenging winters experienced across the Borders will be having an impact.”
“That was the case this year, when the extreme winter conditions experienced in January, February and March caused significant disruption, with three full days where collections were unable to be carried out across the Borders.
“Householders reporting a missed collection over this period will have contributed significantly to the increase this year.
“The number of missed bin collections over the last five years will be dependent on a number of factors including: the provision of a new weekly food waste service to around 27,000 households in 2015; access issues due to obstruction and road closures; vehicle breakdowns; adverse weather; service error; an increase in the number of new homes which bins are collected from each year; and bins not being presented by householders by 7am on scheduled collection days and incorrectly reported as missed.”
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer commented: “I do not recall missed bin collections being a statistic that is regularly shared with councillors. Perhaps the fact that for whatever reason 11,000 bins have failed to be collected explains why this is not on public record.
“I am regularly receiving complaints from constituents who find their bins still full on the pavement after the collection date.
“While of course there will always be occasions when the council have no control of the situation the figures being produced certainly challenge the current collection policy.
“Can you imagine the problems this would cause if three-weekly collection was to be introduced? I for one will not support such a move and would ask the council to explain to council tax payers why this problem exists and what they are doing to resolve it.”