A Green Party-led council has said it can't empty overflowing dog waste bins near a beauty spot because its new fleet of electric vehicles cannot be used off-road and binmen might injure themselves if they lift the bins by hand.
Large amounts of dog waste have been dumped on Hollingbury Golf Club in Brighton – close to an Iron Age hillfort – after Brighton & Hove City council relocated a nearby bin because its new multi-million pound fleet is “not designed for off-road driving”.
According to an email to residents from a council employee, the contents would also have been too heavy for bin men to carry back to the road without risking “musculo-skeletal injuries”.
In May, a council committee agreed to spend up to £2.5m a year on low-emission refuse vehicles until 2030, when it plans to end its reliance on petrol and diesel.
It decided to buy four electric bin lorries – valued at £580,000 each – the same month, with one councillor hailing the move as an “investment in the long-term both environmentally and financially”.
John O’Connell, head of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This has all the hallmarks of a council binge that fails to deliver results for taxpayers.
“While residents have been scrimping and saving, local bureaucrats have been asleep at the wheel. Brighton & Hove council needs to urgently get control of this project and ensure it doesn't turn into yet another white elephant."
A member of Hollingbury Golf Club’s management complained that the local authority had removed several bins around the course without alerting them.
He said: “We were never informed by the council that they were doing that – of course, the dog walkers thought that we had taken the bins away.
“They didn’t put a sign up so subsequently people just started piling dog litter where the bins were, because they didn’t know where the bins now are. How would they know?”
The council, where the Greens have a minority administration, declined to reveal how many of its 500 dog waste bins had been relocated to compensate for electric vehicle deficiencies.
A spokesman said: “We have moved the dog waste bin from near the hillfort to the parking area next to the barrier by the golf course clubhouse. The bin is being very well used by the public, including dog walkers, in its new position.
“We are fully committed to replacing our diesel vehicles with electric ones. These electric vehicles are not designed for off-road driving.”
He added that moving the bin made it easier to empty, especially during wet weather, and meant staff avoided injuries caused by carrying it over uneven ground.
It emerged earlier this month that council tax in the city region could rise by 5pc, or as much as £179 per year, in a bid to raise £173m for the council
Conservative finance spokesman Alistair McNair told the Argus newspaper: “Brighton and Hove has some of the highest taxes, permits, fees and charges in the country.
“As a result of their failure to stop the waste, residents are paying more for fewer services. At a time of rising cost of living, we need the council to step up and get better value for money.
While more money is being raised, the council may still have to cut services including public lavatories, closing more than a dozen of them in the area, which is a popular tourist town.
The council said that it has a duty to balance its budget through cuts and increases to council tax.
Councils may raise council tax by 5pc without a referendum, a move brought in by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last year.
Brighton is not the only council to try out electric trucks, with Exeter taking custody of three vehicles last year.
York council ran into trouble earlier this month when it bought 25 which it found it could not yet charge, as the chargers are being constructed. This was followed by the revelation that two of its trucks would not work in the rain.