Frustrated residents in Rochdale have only just waved goodbye to their Christmas rubbish, as bin men are forced to work overtime to clear the backlog.
Liberal Democrat councillor Dale Mulgrew lambasted the Labour leadership for their failure to anticipate the problem at a traditionally notorious refuse period.
There was no general waste collection between December 13 and January 10, but recycling collections took place last week and on December 20.
By late December, bins were already overloaded but the council stuck to their guns – not swapping the collection dates to account for the pile-up of general waste.
Cllr Mulgrew said: “This decision has caused a lot of anger in Rochdale.
“I think the minimum the residents of Rochdale expect is for the council to pick up their rubbish,” he added.
“So they struggle to understand how during such an intense waste generation period that is Christmas, why there was no household waste collection for four weeks.”
Having seen four weeks’ worth up rubbish pile up outside her home due to the council’s decision, mum-of-three Julie White labelled the mess as resembling a ‘trash mountain’.
She said: “It’s unbelievable that they would not collect bins during a time when kids are off school, families are over indulging and bins are bursting their sides and flowing into the streets.
“I saw one road that was left looking like a bomb exploded after a family of night time critters had gone to town on their bins, which were forced to be kept on the floor.
“Business and homes’ waste left many streets looking like trash mountain.”
Collection crews were out until 9pm last night as they toiled through the piled-up garbage.
The council cited cost saving as the reason for the build-up, but environmental management services have confirmed the staff will be paid extra for the overtime.
Before the festive season, Cllr Mulgrew called for the collection dates of refuse and recycling to be swapped in order to avoid such a drastic build-up.
Dennis Pennill, Service Manager at Rochdale Borough Council, had said: “Swapping weeks around does cause confusion.
“We wrote to every household to inform them of their new date and published the information on the council website,” he added.
But residents received their letter of warning just a day before the last general waste collection on December 13, and were encouraged to take excess garbage to their local tips.
Residents were combining their refuse with their recycling as there was not enough space to keep them separate, and last night’s clear-up saw all rubbish removed at once.
Mr Pennill continued: “We have taken the decision to empty all bins rather than pick through the bins due for collection and leave a trail of overflowing bins and side waste.
“I accept that this is not ideal and will in some circumstances result in recycling going in with the normal waste.
With bins spilling on to the street, collection crews had to provide extra waste bags for people to store their excess rubbish.
“I hope you would agree that in order to get bins emptied and off the street as quickly as possible then this course of action has been appropriate during this period,” he added.
Cllr Mulgrew said: “This has caused residents to question once more the original decision.”
He went to dispose of his rubbish on December 27 and said the tip was ‘rammed’.
“There were queues in and out, and some drivers opted to turn back once they saw the weight of traffic,” he said.
“It is interesting to hear that the town’s MP has now publically called for the council to apologise for this debacle.”
Mr Pennill thanked residents for their patience, said: “This week our crews have been doing everything they can to ensure the revised schedule is met and clear the backlog of waste as quickly as possible.