Dog bin workers got dung out to dry by Tory jobs squeeze – was council bang out of ordure?
TORY austerity has left dog poo overflowing from park bins across Britain, the Morning Star can reveal.
Fed-up residents in one city have pounded their council with complaints — but union reps say politicians are making workers take the flack for cuts and restructuring.
Parks have been bitten by some of the most savage cuts in local government as a result of rules ring-fencing funds for some services, but classing others as “discretionary.”
Councillors in Exeter kicked up a stink over the overflowing bins, grilling staff over the council’s failure to empty them.
But public-sector union Unison called foul play — saying its warnings that a restructuring programme would lead to staff being overstretched were ignored by council chiefs.
And research by the Star has found a cross-Britain bins epidemic that has left children at risk of infection from rotting excrement.
Windsor and Maidenhead and the Canal and River Trust have also faced the ire of locals for failing to empty bins.
Now councillors and campaigners are calling on the government to properly fund parks.
Cambridge city council bins chief Pete Roberts stormed: “The public have a basic expectation that councils maintain their parks, and this includes providing dog bins and emptying them regularly.
“But the government has classified parks as a discretionary service, meaning they will come under more and more pressure as the Conservative government slashes council budgets.
“While in Cambridge we’ve installed more bins and doubled dog warden hours, it’s not surprising that elsewhere the public is getting increasingly frustrated.”
Speaking to the Star yesterday, Exeter Unison organiser Michael Auguste said bins had not been emptied in the city over the past week due to “a lot of staff doing more than one role.”
He said: “There are not enough people being employed for the task anymore. So please don’t blame the staff, they’re working as hard as they can.”
He said angry residents should lobby the council directly to ensure that services are properly funded.
“We do understand that because of this government’s cuts they’re under pressure,” he added. “But they are a Labour council and they should resist some of this.”
But the proverbial hit the fan when Exeter council’s environment chief Keith Owen accused Mr Auguste of “living in utopia.”
“If we set an illegal budget we would be booted out of office,” the councillor said.
“The problem [with dog bins] was purely down to staff sickness, and that has put us behind. It’s incorrect to say that the problem is down to the restructuring: that’s not the case.”
Asked if funding cuts had resulted in the council being less able to deal with staff shortages, he admitted: “If we didn’t have cuts from the Conservative government we would have a higher level of staff than we currently do.”