Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Cornwall will lose weekly black bag bin collections says Cabinet Member

For the last couple of days I have been posting about Tory led Cornwall Council's upcoming decision on the future of waste collections. I have not been able to say what the plans are because the information was contained in pink (ie confidential) papers.

However at today's full council meeting, Cabinet Member Julian German confirmed that the proposal is to move to what he called 'managed weekly collections'.

This system involves the abolition of the weekly black bag collection. Instead, households will get a weekly collection of recycling and a weekly food waste collection. General rubbish will only be collected every two weeks.

The twin aims of the change will be to increase recycling rates and to save money. In the recent consultation, the council claimed that keeping weekly black bag collections would see an increase in costs. Today I pointed out that a new single contract covering the whole of Cornwall would actually see a cut in the current money spent. Cllr German admitted that this was true but claimed that the questionnaire referred to 'relative costs' - ie that money would be saved, but not as much as if weekly collections are abandoned.

In my opinion, the questionnaire was deeply flawed as it presented only two options - and a biased view of one of them. Whilst around 1900 people have responded, it seems that the majority claimed to live in bungalows or detached houses and to be married couples with no children - hardly a representative sample of the total Cornish population.

I agree that fortnightly collections together with weekly recycling would improve recycling rates and a food waste collection is a good idea, but around half of householders surveyed said that they would not use it. The proposal would also be a rats charter with vermin, seagulls and dogs attacking the bags which could be left outside for up to 14 days.

The public should have been given more of an informed choice allowing them to pick from weekly or fortnightly food, recycling and black bag collections. The survey should also have made clear the relative costs. In my opinion the Council flunked this test of genuine local democracy.

The final decision was due to be taken at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting but will now be on 31st January.

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