From Birmingham Mail Neil Elkes…
The Labour councillor made the admission as authority bosses discussed handing binmen £3.5 million-worth of new iPads, tablets and computers in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s green waste chaos.
The five-year investment drive follows the widespread confusion, missed collections and fly-tipping which hit the city last spring following the introduction of the £35-a-year charge.
The issues were in part caused by delays in updating paper lists detailing missed collections and which households had or had not paid.
But Birmingham City Council staff will now be able to change databases instantly with the hi-tech kit in dustcarts.
Onboard cameras will also record blocked streets or fly-tipping, with details relayed to the council’s call centre.
About £2 million of the investment comes from the £30 million Government grant to Birmingham to cover the costs of introducing wheelie bins.
The council also estimated it could save £350,000 in diesel costs by using IT to efficiently monitor routes and slash the number of missed collections.
Coun Lisa Trickett (Lab, Moseley and Kings Heath) said: “We are bringing this service into the 21st century.”
She said poor communications between the council’s call centre, refuse depots and truck crews on the ground was ‘why we screwed up on green bins’.
“People had paid for the bins but the information took time to get through,” she added.
A report to the council’s cabinet said that, in other towns and cities such as Harrow and Blackpool, follow-up calls and complaints from residents fell by almost half following the introduction of mobile technology.
Coun Tricket added: “As a local councillor, I know how important it is to get refuse collection right. It is one of the few services universally used across the city – citizens have a right to expect clean streets.
“It’s easy to roll out statistics about the success of services but every missed collection for an individual family is a total failure for that household.”
If approved by cabinet, the new kit could be in use by spring.