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Complaints pile up over privatised bin collection

THE privatisation of Dublin City Council's bin collection to the Greyhound Recycling company is at the centre of two investigations as complaints continue over the service, with one councillor claiming the decision was a "complete disaster".

Greyhound Recycling took over the bin collections of 140,000 customers from the Dublin City Council in mid-January. But since then there have been many complaints about the move, centring on alleged failures of communication by the company and city council to alert people to the change, over how the €100 charge is paid, and bins not being collected in some areas.

Greyhound initially promised to provide a seamless service, freezing the current €100 annual charge for collections -- due on February 15 -- or bins would not be collected. This decision was later reversed allowing payment in two equal instalments, the first by February 15 and the remainder by July 1.

A spokesman for Greyhound said yesterday 73 per cent of green bins had been presented for collection last week compared to 70 per cent for Dublin City Council.

The overall collection rate was now 98.3 per cent.

And although not everyone had their bins collected, the cleansing firm said this was due to a combination of factors such as access to streets or streets being missed and that this would be rectified within 24 hours.

"A small minority did not receive their collection calendars in time, we apologise for that. We also have an online facility where people can see their calendars," he said.

But yesterday Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan claimed the switch had been "a complete disaster", adding that most of the problems could have been avoided if Greyhound had given information in time, and if there had been a suitable hand-over period for troubleshooting.

In the South Circular Road area, uncollected bags and bins were in evidence yesterday on at least one street.

Local resident Amanda Bane said people had received a letter on a Friday telling them of new collections on a Sunday but were left waiting with two weeks of rubbish before it was collected on the following Sunday.

Another resident said: "Up until two weeks ago, our bins were collected quite efficiently every Friday morning, usually before 8.30am. On Friday 13 -- unlucky for us -- the residents of my street put out their bins as usual and were surprised to find them still there later that evening.

"We had not been told about any changes by Dublin Corporation nor the new company employed.

"The bins remained in place as over the weekend many of the residents telephoned and emailed anyone they could think of to find out what was happening.

"Myself and my wife received absolutely no response to any of our queries and any of my neighbours whom I spoke to also received no response. On Monday, about 11am the bins were finally collected -- but we were still not given any information as to whether our official collection date had changed.

"Last Thursday night most of my neighbours and myself put out our bins as usual. They were not collected on Friday and remain on the pavement at the mercy of the local stray dogs and cats."

Another residents also criticised the bin collections saying they had not received the information letter in time.

The Data Protection Commissioner is to investigate whether the Dublin City Council complied with guidelines in how it handed over the details of 140,000 customers to a private company.

After 20 complaints by customers, the Commissioner's office wrote to Dublin City Council asking it to demonstrate compliance with guidelines on the transfer of customer information where a business is sold or transferred to a new owner. It also wants to look into the agreement reached between Greyhound and the council regarding the collection of debts.

The Commission wants to ensure that Greyhound can only use personal details for the collection of debts.

The Competition Authority is to also to investigate complaints about the dominance of private waste firms in Dublin. It received complaints from customers who have not been able to get an alternative bin collection service.

Greyhound also took over responsibility for recouping €6.7m in outstanding refuse charges owed to the council by householders who are in arrears.

Sunday Independent