Let down village steps up to DIY bin duty

Pat Knight, Orla Sedgwick and Jess Hill with one of Ellenabeich's overflowing public bins they have been emptying themselves because the council collection is not often enough to cope

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Octogenarian Pat Knight is stepping up to bin duty after Argyll and Bute Council has let down heritage village Ellenabeich.

Mrs Knight, whose window looks straight out onto one of the problem bins,  got so fed-up with council refuse collectors only emptying the public bins every three weeks that she literally took the matter into her own hands.

The 83-year-old was one of a number of other, including 20-year-old Orla Sedgwick and Jess Hill who runs Seafari Tours, who took on the litter-busting job they wanted the council to do more often.

Within hours of the refuse lorry calling, the bins were overflowing once again.

There has been repeated calls for help from the council to up its collections and provide more bins but nothing happened and the litter was getting worse as  more and more staycationers descended.

Litter from Ellenabeich’s public bins on the way to be recycled in the back of a resident’s car – not a bin lorry
Litter spills out of Ellenabeich’s bins on almost a daily basis
Bins on the front at Ellenabeich get so full that litter spills out on to the pavement or is pecked at and scattered by seagulls

This week, after more calls including inquiries from The Oban Times, Seil Community Council got an email from Argyll and Bute Council saying the public bins would be added to the collection list for the commercial round that empties The Oyster bar’s waste.

A new wheelie bin also reappeared near the public toilets, it was removed by Argyll and Bute Council last year.

But there is still a stink about the council’s 91-space car park on the sea front where there are no bins at all, says Seil Community Council chairman Zim Knight. Campers pitching up on the car park are stuffing their waste in residents’ bins instead.

When the public bins are brimming, people are also dumping rubbish bags next to them. Seagulls are swooping in and scattering it, even ripping open dog poo bags in the hope of finding scraps to eat.

Argyll and Bute Council has a £500,000 budget to help deliver a range of facilities needed to support staycations and that includes extra waste disposal facilities.

‘It’s disgusting we’ve been left in this mess. They’ve got money to sort this out so give us some of it. We are a tourist hot-spot in Argyll – we have wildlife sea tours, kayaking, the Slate Islands museum, the pub, incredible walks. We’ve got so much to offer but our requests for help to manage the huge number of visitors have not been listened to, although there seems to be some movement now that we’ve put even more pressure on.

‘It’s not right the community is having to empty public bins and do the job for them. This would not happen in Oban, at least there they have a streetcleaner – we do not!

‘If they won’t give us extra bins in their own car park then maybe be they should hand the car park over to us so we can run it, charge for it and use the money to provide the bins we desperately need,’ said Mr Knight.

The community council will keep working with councillors Elaine Robertson and Kieron Green to make sure they see positive change.

‘The situation needed upgrading to whoever is at the top and makes the actual decisions to give us more bins. If this does not happen, we will report it as a hazard to environmental health,’ he added.

The community council has already supplied its own bin at Seaview’s scenic layby that  has to be emptied daily and wild campers on the shore near Dunearn have been using up space in the school’s bin.

There have also been reports of campers using car parks and gardens as a toilet.