by Roger Harmer on 4 December, 2012
The issue of whether to move from the current Black Bag collection system to Wheelie Bins for domestic rubbish has been a topic of discussion for some time now. A year or so back it was discussed at an Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meeting. Following an in depth discussion those attending the meeting came out very decisively against a move to Wheelie Bins. Now following the allocation of a major government grant, the Labour run Council has decided to move ahead with the development of a Wheelie Bin collection system for Birmingham. At today’s Full Council meeting the Lib Dem Group proposed the following motion:
“This council regrets the decision of the new administration to abandon the proposals to introduce food waste recycling as part of the grant application bid to retain weekly collections;
It further regrets the new administration’s hasty decision to impose wheelie bins having failed to raise it as an issue in the previous local elections or to conduct consultation prior to the change of policy.
Council notes that resident surveys conducted in the wards of Springfield, Selly Oak, Perry Barr, South Yardley, Acocks Green, Stechford and Yardley North and Sheldon indicate overwhelming opposition to the introduction of multiple wheelie bins and general support for food waste recycling.
The council welcomes the retention of weekly collections and notes the government’s decision to award a substantial grant to the council in recognition of this.
Council calls on the executive to maintain faith with the spirit of devolution recognising that residents know the appropriate design of services for their neighbourhood and that their views should be respected.
It further calls for:
* the proposed residents’ consultation to be comprehensive to ensure that those residents incapable of managing wheelie bins are identified;
* confirmation that residents should not have to store wheelie bins on the pavement and public highway;
* door to door censuses of residents’ ability to manage wheelie bins to be conducted where ward councillors request it;
* guarantees that residents who cannot manage wheelie bins will not get a second class service;
* full rounds to retain black bag collection where it is obvious that a substantial minority of households cannot manage the wheelie bin system.”
What happened when the motion came up for debate? Well the following press release from Cllr Jon Hunt explains:
Cabinet member James McKay was unable to respond to the Liberal Democrat
motion on wheelie bins last night after his own group denied him the time
needed to move their amendment.
In spite of failing to put across any case for wheelie bins, the Labour
group voted out the Liberal Democrat motion, which called for household
censuses to establish whether residents could manage the proposed system of
three new wheelie bins.
Cllr Jon Hunt, Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said: “It was a shambles.
Labour first tried to filibuster and repeatedly rejected requests for the
full-scale debate that residents deserve. In the end I and Cllr Neil
Eustace got to put our case as did two Conservative councillors. But
nobody from the majority Labour party was heard.
“Birmingham’s residents are up in arms about this proposal. So far what we
have heard from Cllr Mackay does not give reassurance.
“It is not right that people should be kept in the dark.”
During earlier questions the cabinet member revealed he was unaware that
many councils charge residents large sums for replacing wheelie bins that
are vandalised or lost. In Solihull the typical charge is more than £40.
Sheffield Council admits to losing some 10,000 wheelie bins a year.
Cllr Mackay also rejected the idea of allowing residents to “opt out” of
Labour’s motion, voted through without any supporting speeches, promised a
“flexible” system of waste collection and a full consultation.
Jon Hunt said: “I’m puzzled about how you can have a flexible system
without allowing residents to make their own choice that they cannot manage
wheelie bins. Yet again we have been unable to get answers.
“In moving our motion I produced evidence that introducing wheelie bins is
going to be very difficult and potentially costly in Birmingham. What’s not
generally realised is that our housing estates are very different from the
rest of the country because of the huge expansion of the city with
affordable, private homes in the 1920s and 1930s. Some 34% of our homes
date from this era compared with an average of 18% for the rest of England.
We have many fewer modern estates than elsewhere.
“That’s why residents are up in arms. It’s increasingly clear this was a
decision taken in haste and may prove to be fatally flawed.”