BIN THIS FAILING DEPARTMENT!

KEN HOUSTON

MORE transport travail at Edinburgh City Council over the summer months, this time with the bin lorries, whose absence in some suburban areas of the capital’s south side caused much angst among residents.

The reason given by the council was vehicle “issues” over a two-week period, with no less than 19 out of service at one time.

The council will not reveal the size of the refuse vehicle fleet but 19 is likely to be a large part of the overall number needed to service a compact city of half a million people.

Some might call this a case of extraordinary bad luck. But as a resident well aware of the general inconsistency in the council’s household refuse collection service, instinct tells me it goes deeper than that.

The problem faced by residents is not just one of inconvenience but frustration at the laissez faire attitude at the other end of the council helpline (sic).

The standard response is: “We are doing our best to resolve the problem. Please keep your bin out on the pavement and it might (my emphasis) be collected within the next two days (which, incidentally do not include Saturday or Sunday).”

Some time ago, Edinburgh bin lorries (at least those that were operational) began sporting a large poster which encouraged residents to “make our city EDENBURGH” – a slogan that probably took up hours and hours of committee time but could have been penned by any intelligent nine-year-old.

Yes, we’d love to turn ‘Edinburgh’ into ‘Edenburgh’ but if this is ever to be achieved it needs to kick off with privatisation of the refuse collection service.

 

NEW CEO IS WELL-TRAVELLED

SO, no shortage of issues needing sorted for Andrew Kerr, who has recently taken over from Sue Bruce as chief executive of Edinburgh City Council.

However, if the council’s long-term problems require long-term solutions then councillors will probably expect the new incumbent to occupy the hot seat longer than his predecessor. Dame Sue announced her retirement just four years after arriving in Edinburgh from Aberdeen, where her tenure as chief executive of that council lasted less than two years.

Unfortunately, Mr Kerr’s recent record does not portray him as a long-stayer either, the Edinburgh position being the fourth senior management role he has held with a local authority in the past five years.

After serving as chief executive of North Tyneside Council, from 2005 to 2010, his subsequent tenure of a similar role with Wiltshire lasted less than two years, during which he handed back a £6,000 incremental salary increase following a public outcry, although this sum was dwarfed by the pay-off of £144,000 which Mr Kerr received in the autumn of 2011, when his Wiltshire post was made redundant.

Possibly being able to afford a few months’ rest from the pressures of local government, Mr Kerr reappeared on the jobs front the following spring as chief operating officer at Cardiff City Council.

However he was there for only 18 months before setting off again, this time to fill the post of chief executive of Cornwall Council – from which he resigned after another 18 months, following his appointment in Edinburgh.

Thanks to gold-plated, taxpayer-subsidised pensions, 60 has become a popular retirement age for local authority top brass.

How long Mr Kerr (aged 56) will last at Edinburgh is anyone’s guess…

Twitter: @PropPRMan

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