Glasgow publicans have vented their fury at Glasgow City Council over the new bin collection pilot scheme.
The council’s aim is to make city streets safer and easier on the eye by ridding them of large waste containers during certain time periods, and they have the power to confiscate any containers left on the street outwith designated collection times and fine the businesses in question. The initiative runs for six months and affects eight distinct areas, including stretches of Sauchiehall Street and West Nile Street, and will be rolled out across the entire city centre if it’s a success. Bins can only be kept out on the street for an hour at a time and never overnight.
Nicola Walker, general manager of Driftwood, one of Sauchiehall Street’s best-known bars, says her staff are ‘going through hell’ since the trial kicked off last month.
Said Nicola, “Whoever’s implemented this has no idea about waste management. They should have visited and consulted us more beforehand. When all of this came in, they announced it at really short notice, three or four weeks. I’m all for cleaning up the streets, but my staff are going through hell and it’s costing money in terms of man-hours and staffing. It’s a real strain on the business.”
The temporary solution Driftwood have found is storing waste in a private lane at the rear of the bar, but that has apparently led to more issues, as there have been reports of sexual assault in the area behind Sauchiehall Street and the vast majority of Driftwood’s staff are female, meaning Nicola always has to ensure there are two members of staff available each time the bins are put out.
She continues, “We’re unique as a venue as we have got a front door and two fire exits upstairs. We’ve been keeping our bin on the street for 20 years, and there’s not been much help or assistance, no-one’s had the will to find a solution. When they trialled this in Edinburgh they made allowances for food waste and glass, but they haven’t done that here. Instead they have followed the model of the Westminster trial. They don’t have the same waste regulations in London so it’s a completely indirect comparison.”
Although it’s described as a trial, Nicola has been given the impression that the permanent implementation of the new rules across the whole city centre is something of a fait accompli, and believes there will be more problems in store down the line.
She added, “To me, it isn’t a pilot scheme. I don’t think they know what a trial is. A lot of people have just moved their bins outside the zones, so we’ll just be back to square one in six months. People will also have been throwing stuff onto fire exits, which is potentially a huge problem. The council couldn’t do daily collections before, so there’s no way they can do it in an hour.”
Another affected area is Garth Street, where several Merchant City bars, including Bacchus, stored their waste until recently. According to General Manager Ross Ballantine, Bacchus haven’t faced quite the same level of disruption as Driftwood, but the trial has still left something to be desired.
Ross told DRAM, “I’m all for it – where possible. Garth Street was pretty bad, to be honest, and I’m fortunate that there’s adequate space for us to store stuff on the fire escape. The problem is they wanted to collect at 8.30am, and we said no, so I’ve been emailing back and forward. Only this morning I came in to do paperwork and there were three full bins sat at the back.
He continued, “It might get better as it goes on, but I feel for the people who don’t have a bin area. We got plenty of notice, they are just not keeping to their part of the bargain and picking up on the allotted days.”
Another general manager of an affected bar, who didn’t want to be identified, described the scheme as ‘a bit of a nightmare’.
He said, “There’s been no consideration for businesses. It’s the way they have gone about it that bothers me. There hasn’t been any forum. All bars are different, we all have individual needs. The market is saturated, the council grants so many licenses to bars and restaurants, so of course there’s going to be lots of bins outside.”
The GM also echoed Nicola’s belief that a decision has already been made about the roll-out.
“We were told it was a trial period, but when I asked when there would be a meeting about it, I was told there wouldn’t be one and it will be rolling out in October.”
They concluded, “We work with an independent contractor and we’ve had to tailor all of our uplifts so that there’s basically a collection every time we put the bins out.”