WHILE councillors argue on these pages about how frequently the bins should be collected, residents are telling me it is going from bad to worse.

Thousands of Southsiders have been told this week that their food waste bins are being taken away, and they are telling me that will leave them with no choice but to throw it out with the rest of the rubbish.

That’s a backwards step for a city that wants to go green. People living in tenements need more opportunities to recycle, not fewer.

Changes to waste collections are always going to be disruptive, so how those changes are managed really matters. Regardless of the arguments for and against the decisions, it’s clear from the strength of feeling that the council has let citizens down.

Firstly, there’s been no transparency of decision making. If you search on the council website for a committee report approving any of the recent changes, from food waste, to bulk uplift, or three weekly collections, you won’t find one, because they don’t exist.

Financial decisions moved as a block in the annual budget are taken to be final, without any opportunity to look at the issues strategically, and with no opportunity for elected councillors to scrutinise proposals. From a council that’s supposedly committed to open government, that’s shocking.

Secondly, there’s been an absence of any meaningful local engagement. No attempt to support people, practically, in making changes. And the tone of communications to householders has shifted blame from the council to residents.

There’s no humility. No acceptance that sometimes the council hasn’t delivered its side of the bargain. They say it’s our contamination, our too-heavy bins, and our hard-to-access back courts that are at fault.

Of course, local engagement is made harder by lockdown. But that leads to the third big mistake – timing. It’s really quite crass to ram through these changes when we’re still in the middle of the pandemic.

When the already-stretched workforce is depleted by people having to self-isolate. When people are working and schooling children at home, with an inevitable impact on how much rubbish they are generating, and fewer options to avoid waste.

We do need new ideas and new approaches. Glasgow’s recycling rate is frankly a national disgrace. At less than 25%, it’s the lowest of any mainland council in Scotland by some way. Even the other city councils now average around 40%.

We’ve stagnated for years, under successive administrations, devoid of answers other than building a costly incinerator, which was massively oversold as the answer to all our woes. The change we need must come from all of us.

Scottish Greens believe we need a collective effort. One which has cross-party backing, which is informed by expert advice, and which genuinely empowers local communities and front line workers to design services that meet local needs. We called for a Waste Summit back in 2018 to do just this, but the SNP refused and went ahead with the mismanaged changes we are seeing now.

We are renewing that call. The council should get together with Zero Waste Scotland to make that happen. And we should also take the upcoming council budget as a chance to reinvest in these frontline services.

Glaswegians deserve a waste strategy that works and helps everyone to do what’s necessary. It’s time this botched, scattergun approach, hurried through during a pandemic, was put in the bin.