Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 14:30 UK

Politicians wade into rubbish row

Rubbish in Edinburgh
Refuse collectors have been working to rule, which means some bins in Edinburgh have started to overflow

Outside contractors should be brought in to clean up Edinburgh's streets following a dispute over bin collector wages, according to a Conservative MSP.

David McLetchie said if a deal could not be struck then a contractor needed to be brought in to do the work.

It comes on the first day of a two-week ballot over strike action.

Refuse collectors fear a new pay system could see their wages cut from £18,000 to about £12,000. They are already working-to-rule.

David McLetchie MSP, Scottish Conservative member for Edinburgh Pentlands, said: "The LibDem/SNP council has turned Edinburgh into a building site and a rubbish tip.

The SNP government must now intervene to solve this problem as Edinburgh council appear incapable of doing so
Mark Lazarowicz
Edinburgh MP

"The council needs to get a grip. The binmen need to clear up the mess. If they won't, then we must bring in outside contractors to clean up the streets of Edinburgh.

"We cannot pay this group more without risking equal pay claims from other council employees.

"And if a deal cannot be struck, then maybe it is time to contract out the service so that our streets can be cleared, the rubbish collected and the public purse spared."

Iain Whyte, Edinburgh City Council Conservative group leader, said: "The long-term solution might well lie in out-sourcing these services.

"The council must certainly test whether we are getting value for money by tendering the service.

"Parts of the recycling service have already been outsourced and are working normally and use cost effective methods to provide a more efficient and reliable service."

'Healthy environment'

Mark Lazarowicz, Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: "The problem with uncollected rubbish is now becoming extremely serious throughout the city, and is particularly severe in densely populated areas such as many in the area I represent.

"We need to see a resolution fast, and the SNP government must now intervene to solve this problem as Edinburgh council appear incapable of doing so."

Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh City Council deputy leader, said: "We have a solution to this dispute.

"The people of Edinburgh have every right to expect that a negotiated settlement is the way forward instead of the union's preferred route of disrupting services.

"In a modern city people rightly expect their waste to be collected regularly and their families to live in a healthy environment."

Edinburgh City Council said it was meeting with union leaders later on Thursday to carry on discussions over the bin dispute.

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