Outraged residents whose streets resemble ”a third world country” after rubbish bins went uncollected for a month were furious today when the council leader stated it was ”not a major problem”.
Householders in Exeter, Devon, have had to negotiate huge piles of waste outside their homes which is attracting vermin – including rats, mice and seagulls.
Labour-run Exeter City Council claims refuse trucks have been unable to navigate the streets over the festive period due to ice and snow, leaving pavements covered in uncollected waste.
Council leader Pete Edwards infuriated residents by claiming the issue was ”not a major problem” despite revealing the mess is unlikely to be sorted until January 24.
But there was no sign of mounting rubbish anywhere near his home.
He said: ”Every day the bin lorries could have been out they have been out – I do not see it as a major problem.
”Refuse could not have been collected on the bank holidays because rubbish tips were not open to dispose of waste.”
He also added that he did not believe it was necessary for refuse collectors to work over Christmas bank holidays to clear the back log.
Labour councillor Rob Hannaford – who is responsible for bin collections in the city – also angered residents by refusing to comment on the issue.
Cllr Hannaford, portfolio holder for environment at Exeter City Council, yesterday experienced the problem first hand as rubbish began to pile up outside his own home.
He refused to comment, but previously implied that residents were to blame for the problem, stating: ”There is a long standing issue of the residents in the Polsloe area of Exeter misusing that back alley and in that area of the city it has been a persistent problem.
”They do have room to store rubbish in their garden and don’t need to pile them.
”But that alley is used as a dumping ground and there is regular fly-tipping.”
Hundreds of households have lived in ‘disgusting’ conditions since the normal fortnightly collections were cancelled, with the last full round taking place on December 8.
Joe Fawcett, 48, a software developer whose home overlooks an alley of uncollected bin bags and rubbish, said: ”I am extremely unhappy with the comments I heard from our council leader this morning.
”The problem started when they switched the bins from weekly to fortnightly in September. If you missed one collection before it was fine because you only had to cope for a week but now we are having to cope for a month.
”All I can say is that this councillor clearly doesn’t have a problem in his area.
”His comments that this is not a major issue really does rub salt into the wound.
”When I walk to my corner shop now I literally have to step over rubbish in the street. It is a health hazard.”
Conservative councillor Yolanda Henson said: ”It is absolute nonsense for the portfolio holder to blame the residents for this.
”Are we saying they should keep 14 bags of rubbish in their kitchen or living room? This is a basic service that the taxpayer pays for.”
Polsloe resident David Long, 45, said: ”The council has acted in a completely irresponsible way and they should be held to account.
”The rubbish system has failed and this has become an issue of public health.
”It is a bit rich for the council to blame the residents. Their failure to carry out the most basic of public services has brought shame on the city.”
There were calls for Cllr Hannaford and his civil partner Adrian Hannaford, who is also a councillor, to stand down in June when their attendance record at meetings was branded ‘appalling’.