As people will have seen in the press Bury Council have agreed to go ahead with three-weekly collections of the main ‘grey’ bins from October 2014.
The decision was made by the Council’s ‘Cabinet’ – a group of six Labour councillors with no opposition members.
Immediately after the decision our ouw Cllr Tim Pickstone wrote and asked for the decision to be ‘called-in for Scrutiny’. This is where the decision of the Cabinet is reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee which is made up of ‘back-bench’ councillors.
Although this is an important step it is almost unheard of for Scrutiny to change a decision of the Cabinet, particularly because the balance on the Committee is more representative of the Council’s political makeup – so there are 9 Labour councillors, 3 Conservatives and for this particular committee no Lib Dems or Independents.
The Scrutiny Call-in Meeting happens on Wednesday 30 July 2014 at 7.00pm at the Town Hall – members of the public are welcome.
Lack of Public Consultation
We are extremely concerned about the way that this decision has been made. The Council could and should have consulted members of the public, to see what ideas people had about recycling and bin collections.
Instead the decision has been rushed through with only six days between the publication on the report and the final decision being made.
Over 3,500 people signed a petition on the Change.org website against the three weekly collection. Local Lib Dems undertook our own online survey of local residents and despite the short timescale over 800 people took part.
91% did not agree with the change to 3 weeks, 6% agreed.
Good idea, but wrong way to do it!
Bury Council’s idea of ‘zero waste’ is a good principle to have.
Liberal Democrats have always been huge supporters of recycling. The world’s population is growing every day and we cannot continue to exploit and throw away the earth’s precious resources.
The Council estimates that it will save £800,000 a year in landfill charges. But, as many residents have pointed out, this assumes that we will all recycle MORE rubbish with a three-weekly bin collection than we do now. Many people are telling us that they already recycle everything that they can.
Every Household is Different
We’re all different and we all produce slightly different amounts of rubbish! There will be different ways that work for different households to reduce their waste. Many people have enthusiastically taken up the Council’s offer of having a smaller Grey Bin – which is a great way to reduce recycling if you can keep your rubbish down to this level. Now the Council is saying that it will replace smaller bins with bigger bins if people need to with the three-weekly collections (how much is that going to cost?).
Three weekly collections will be fine for some households. But many people with larger families, with babies, with pets and some people with medical conditions are very concerned about how they will cope with a collection every three weeks.
What can’t we recycle
There are many things that we CANNOT recycle in our bins at present. Most are ‘soft plastics’ such as yogurt pots, margarine tubs and crucially all that packaging we get from supermarkets such as plastic food trays. There are medium sized items that can be taken to a tip or a mini-recycling centre – but guess what? – the Council has closed our Tip, and all three mini-recycling centres in Prestwich have been closed (Tescos, Longfield, Upper Wilton Street). In Government the Lib Dems have introduced a small charge on plastic bags to help reduce plastic waste, encourage recycling and protect our environment. When a similar charge was introduced in Wales, the number of plastic bags used fell by nearly 80%.
Reducing our Rubbish
The best way to reduce the amount we send to landfill or incinerator and save money is to reduce the amount of rubbish in total. Thirty years ago a households’ rubbish fitted easily into ONE small bin (that the dustbin man/woman normally carried on their back!). What has changed is the amount we buy and throw away and crucially the amount of packaging that everything comes in. Some things will need to be done by Government, but there are many things that local councils can do – either on their own or working together (for example across Greater Manchester) to work with supermarkets to reduce their packaging, or help people reduce waste.
What happens now?
Unless something happens to change the Council’s mind, the changes will happen at the beginning of October 2014.
The Council has produced this list of FAQs for people.