Last night, Bury Council’s Scrutiny Committee met to to review and scrutinise the reason behind the decision of the Labour-run Cabinet for a 3 weekly bin collection policy. The scrutiny committee consists of 9 Labour Cllrs and 3 Conservative Cllrs.
Residents leaving the Scrutiny meeting last night described it as a ‘farce’.
Residents (and Councillors not on the committee) were allowed just 30 minutes to put questions to the Cabinet Member and his Deputy. There were some serious and credible questions raised. Public question time quickly ran out. Labour Cllrs present granted an extra 10 minutes for questions.
I certainly had many questions and issues – from the hundreds of people that had contacted me – and over 2,000 that have visited my blog post on this issue. Unfortunately, time ran out. Other Councillors, Labour and Conservative, were also prevented from asking questions. The Chairman apologised to me, and other Cllrs, this morning, for his inability to allow more questions – but that is the limit of our scrutiny process.
Luckily, I had discussed issues and questions beforehand with members of the committee, and we got some answers and assurances from the Cabinet Member.
It was made clear at the meeting that up to 75% of all waste should be recyclable. The cost for sending residual waste to landfill is £284 per tonne in landfill charges.
The Cabinet Member asserted that education alone would not increase recycling rates – measures had to be taken to reduce the amount that can be put in residual rates to encourage residents to recycle.
The assurances we received were that:
– The 600 houses with no brown bins – mainly on the rural bin route – will not have a 3 weekly collection at this stage;
– Residents who opted for the smaller 140 litre grey bin, will be able to switch to a larger 240 litre bin at no cost;
– Those living in flats or apartments with communal schemes will be unaffected and continue to have fortnightly collections;
– The Council along with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority are re-negotiating their contract with Viridor Laing to allow items that are not currently recyclable (eg low grade plastics) to be collected and recycled;
– Those residents wanting a second grey bin, will firstly have to have visits from the Council’s ‘Education and Awareness Team’ to discuss recycling. If the team consider that a second bin is required, a 140 litre grey bin will be issued. It will have a red lid to show it is a second bin;
– waste collection teams would be re-organised so that area based teams would be in place;
The final result from the meeting was that the Labour Cllrs present voted not to refer the matter to full Council for a detailed debate and therefore the decision will stand – despite Conservative opposition.
The new collection system will be introduced in October 2014.
Residents told us after the meeting that a policy thought up just a matter of weeks ago by our Labour-run Council, and introduced by the Labour Cabinet within 7 days of being publicised was not their idea of open and transparent consultation and decision making.