The number of people complaining about Bradford Council services has shot up by 15 per cent - mainly on the back of missed recycling bin collections.

There were a total of 14,389 complaints last year - and a staggering 89 per cent of these relate to the waste management and street-scene department.

More than half of these are because of missed domestic refuse collections.

Another factor is the state of the refuse vehicles. More than half of the fleet was affected by breakdowns.

Paul Taylor, customer relations manager, said: "The overall increase in complaints is due primarily to an increase in the number of waste management and street-scene complaints. Complaints for this service have to be seen in the context of domestic refuse service delivered to 200,000 properties, serving a population of 480,000 with 12 million collections undertaken per year.

"It should be noted that a Council decision some years ago determined that all individual reports of missed bins would be classified as complaints. This accounts for the high numbers recorded.

"More than half of these complaints related to missed domestic refuse bins. The number of missed recycle collections are reported separately this year, and the number of complaints in this category are largely responsible for the increase."

In his report Mr Taylor also wrote that no precise figures were available on the percentage of the contacts regarding the waste management and street-scene department that represent "justifiable" complaints - although data should be available for next year.

Other departments that saw increases were social services at 35 per cent and customer services at two per cent.

Massive decreases were seen in education contract services (87 per cent), environmental health (48 per cent) and the office of policy and corporate support (46 per cent).

Increases in social services complaints were partly attributed to the appointment of two complaint officers - one for adults and one for children - which raised the profile of how complaints would be handled.

Last year there were 70 complaints where the customer was dissatisfied with the outcome of their initial complaint. This compares with 60 the previous year. The majority of these were in the customer services and waste management departments.

Wallace Sampson, strategic director of customer services, told the Telegraph & Argus a new system for waste management went live in July which is intended to give contact centre staff more information to improve customer service. It should also result in fewer complaints being referred.

The waste management department should also benefit from a two-year programme to replace ageing wagons. Also, separating recycling from other refuse services - which happened recently - is expected to make a difference.

Mr Sampson said: "With the improvements in IT and the gradual replacement of the fleet, we are expecting this department to show some improvements and that as a consequence there will be fewer missed-bin requests. Contact centre staff will have information fed back to them from waste management which will enable us to deal with things proactively."

The report is due to be discussed at today's Corporate Improvement Committee meeting.

Earlier this year the T&A reported how residents furious at missed bin collections had barricaded the street with wheelie bins in protest.

They were told the delays were partly down to frequent vehicle breakdowns.

The President of Horton Grange Residents Association, Muhammad Azam, told how collections in the area had been missed 19 times in the past year.

He complained overflowing bins were a target for animals which scattered the rubbish about the street.

The Council responded by saying problems were caused because crews could not drive the refuse lorry along the street due to parked cars and skips.

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