SCOTLAND'S biggest council has been warned that cuts to the number of street cleaners and major problems with refuse vehicles failing to comply with the city's Low Emission Zone is deepening a problem with rat infestation.

GMB Scotland's Glasgow branch convenor Chris Mitchell has warned of a crisis in collection saying that bins were going unemptied because there are not enough refuse vehicles to carry out the work.

And he said cuts to the number of road sweepers over the past ten years has seen the city fall into "decay".

He said more taxpayer's money is required to give the city a "deep clean", curb a rat infestation and to make the fleet of waste lorries fit for purpose.

It comes as the council was accused of profiteering as the number of drivers fined for entering Glasgow's LEZ doubled in the second month.

Some 5,933 penalty charge notices were issued to cars being driven into the LEZ in July - after just 2922 in June.

READ MORE: Council accused of profiteering as Glasgow LEZ fines double

It means that almost 150 drivers a day are being sanctioned financially for entering the LEZ zone.

The LEZ covers an area from the M8 motorway to the north and west of Glasgow, the River Clyde to the south, and the Saltmarket/High Street to the east.

The enforced restrictions were introduced in June but similar restrictions have been in place for buses and heavy goods vehicles since 2018.

It has been confirmed that Glasgow City Council is having to hire vehicles because some of its own fleet does not meet new rules on emissions.

The Herald: Chris Mitchell , GMB Convenor pictured outside the Glasgow City Council western cleansing depot on Kelvinhaugh Street...Photograph by Colin Mearns.18 February 2022.For Glasgow Times, see story by Ruth Suter.

Of the 1,615 vehicles owned by the council some 616 are non-compliant meaning they are no longer allowed inside the new LEZ.

The council has said only a small number of the non-compliant vehicles were required to enter the zone but they include all its uplift trucks used for parking enforcement.

The council's fleet includes a variety of cars, buses, lorries and vans used by to carry out various aspects of council business.

Rat infestations in Glasgow are estimated to have risen by 31% in a year in 2022, according to city council data.

The city council had 10,323 reports of rodents from residents in 2022 compared with 7,894 in 2021.

 Mr Mitchell, the GMB rep who works as a refuse collector for the council said that there issues as the majority of council cleansing lorries were non-compliant and were "for the best part" 15 years or over and were not LEZ compliant.

It is understood that as of last year, of 105 refuse collection vehicles in the fleet, 76 were registered before 2015.

The council has said that the minimum requirements mean petrol cars from before 2006 and diesel vehicles registered before 2015 can expect heavy fines.

Mr Mitchell said that there was a "crisis in street collection" which has meant that there are not enough vehicles to carry out bin collections and that "hired in" vehicles had been required.

Meanwhile he says that the number of street cleaners had been cut by nearly half over ten years and says they currently number around 380.  The council dispute that the numbers dropped by half.

Official figures show street cleansing staffing has dropped by 100 since 2019.

And Mr Mitchell believed the Scottish Government should step in with a bailout to curb the "decline" of Glasgow and tackle the problem with rats.

He said that the re-organisation of the fleet to deal with LEZ has meant that those that are currently being deployed in the city centre to carry out waste collections were "not fit for purpose".

"There is nowhere near enough vehicles and they have had years to sort it out," he said.

"They are trying their best but they have a fleet that is the best part of 15 year old."

The council says the existing tippers on average are 10 years old.

Mr Mitchell said: "Of course, bins won't get emptied. You cannot empty a bin without a vehicle.

"There is a rat infestation and the reason is because of the cuts," he said. "There are rats everywhere. Rat infestation is rife across Glasgow. It is nonsense to say the rats have only become more visible.

The Herald:

"The Scottish Government has to admit that Glasgow is in decline. Services are struggling and they must give the council money, but unfortunately the council for some reason think it is not in decline.

"We have a rat infestation and a problem with street collecting and a problem with refuse collection.

"The whole city needs a deep clean and major funding for that. It is the only way the council can get over this. Right now we have little resources for street collection [and road sweeping].

"The whole city is in decay. Glasgow needs a recovery but there needs to be money.

"Any politician that runs the city has got to realise that is exactly what is happening."

Glasgow City Council said that to allow a period of familiarisation during its first month of LEZ enforcement, non-compliant vehicles detected in Glasgow's LEZ received a maximum of one Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) in June 2023.

The council is now set to bring in £600,000 in fines from the sanctions in its first two months, with the single penalty for breaching the zone being £60. One driver received a maximum £480 penalty for a fourth breach.

Glasgow City Council spent almost £10m on agency workers to empty bins and deal with recycling between 2017 and 2002.

The spend escalated in latest two years with the council incurring a £5.6m bill for refuse agency workers from April 2020 to March 2022.

The Herald: Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken said the new River Clyde Tidal Flood Model will allow proper management of flood risk along the river

In 2021, Glasgow's council leader Susan Aitken rejected claims the city is "filthy" as it prepared to host the COP26 climate summit.

She insisted Glasgow only needed a “spruce up as we emerge from Covid”, despite repeated criticism over the state of the streets.

She admitted the rat population had exploded by 25% during lockdown but insisted it was an issue affecting all major urban areas.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Only a limited number of vehicles in the council’s fleet are required to enter the city centre Low Emission Zone, and those that do will be required to meet the emission standards.

“New LEZ compliant vehicles are expected to be delivered to us in the near future and we are also retrofitting existing vehicles to improve emissions standards across our fleet.

“LEZ compliant vehicles have been hired in the short term to ensure emissions standards are met and this will allow older vehicles to be taken out of service in line with our ongoing fleet replacement programme.

“It is not true to say that these hired vehicles are not fit for purpose nor is there any evidence to support a link between an alleged increase in rat activity and the operation of the LEZ.”