CAROLINE Lucas has blasted the council over the bin collection crisis, saying “serious questions” need to be asked.

She says it is “not fair” for Brighton and Hove City Council to continue making “excuses” to residents about why their rubbish is not being collected for weeks on end at times.

The issue with Cityclean, the in-house refuse service, has been worsening since the turn of the year, with people infuriated by the poor treatment they are receiving.

In June, deputy council leader Gill Mitchell claimed the problems were down to a driver shortage, bin lorries overheating in the sun and bad parking by motorists. Earlier this month we reported the binmen are threatening to take strike action, while a council source claimed frontline workers do not turn up for work and strike threats are a regular occurrence.

However, Ms Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has dismissed these reasons as excuses and says the council needs to offer a clear fix to the problems.

She told The Argus: “Last week I went back to the council’s chief executive, Geoff Raw, to reiterate my concerns about the systemic problems within Cityclean. When the council is failing to manage one of its vital services effectively for such a long period of time, serious questions need to be asked.

“Earlier this year I was told that bad weather was the cause, but the problems clearly run much deeper than that.

“It’s not fair on residents for the council to keep rolling out excuses for the failure to improve things without any clear explanation for the extent of the problems and a proper plan to improve things.”

The RSPCA charity in Patcham, Brighton, did not have its rubbish collected for three weeks, and when binmen finally arrived, they could not take all the trash in one journey.

Ms Lucas said residents who report rubbish problems to the council are being ignored.

She added: “I’ve repeatedly raised the problems that residents are having with missed bin collections with the council.

“Not only are residents failing to have their bins collected when scheduled, many residents have told me they are met with a wall of silence when they try to raise the issue with the council, with either their phone calls not being answered, or their emails not being responded to.”

The council says it is working on reviewing and restructuring the service.

A council spokeswoman said: “A temporary shortage of drivers and collectors due to annual leave and sickness at the start of August resulted in a large number of missed collections.

“These kind of staff shortages are normally covered by agency staff, but the agencies are finding it difficult to provide us with properly trained and qualified people. We know this is extremely frustrating so thank you for bearing with us while staff caught up with collections.

“Longer term work is being carried out to improve the service. This includes round restructures and a review of services. We update our website daily with information on collections, and the page also gives advice on the best ways to contact Cityclean.”