There seems to be a lot of cynicism out here on Public Consultations and specifically Redbridge Conversations on the Council’s proposed budgets. One such suggestion is that the council deliberately include contentious items in their initial proposals so that they can take them out when there is a fuss and make it look like they are listening.
Of course we realise that the Coalition government are cutting their grant and that some tough decisions have to be made. You can’t spend what you haven’t got. So, the consultation is out and is currently doing the rounds of Area Committees and on Wednesday 25th we had the pleasure of Cllr Mrs Dunn’s company at Area 3 to answer questions and we were assured that the proposed budget is not a Dunn deal. She is the cabinet member for Highways (which includes waste and recycling – don’t ask!).
The big issue raised was the proposed reduction of the Green Waste kerbside summer (April to October) collection service from weekly to fortnightly. There was a good debate with some interesting points made.
Firstly, there is currently a working party, chaired by Cllr Paul Canal, in progress looking at the whole question of waste and recycling and how we can reduce the costs of this. The council pay £128 for every tonne sent to landfill and £98 for every tonne of recycling. It would seem prudent to wait for the results of this exercise before making any rash decisions on Green waste collection.
Secondly, when the service was introduced it was completely overwhelmed. It is very popular. And when it went from fortnightly to weekly the take-up of the service and tonnage shot up again, as was the case when the general kerbside recycling scheme went from fortnightly to weekly and also when cardboard recycling was introduced. The big question is what was happening to all this green waste before? And the answer is it was being put out in the general waste and going to landfill costing the taxpayer £128 per tonne instead of £98 per tonne. So, we don’t want to go back to that do we? There is a distinct possibility that such a move could be counter-productive and cost us more in the long term. And it also sends out completely the wrong message on waste.
Area Committee 3 voiced their disapproval on this item in the budget as did Area Committee 1 last Monday. Cllr Mrs Dunn did seem to be listening and I am quite hopeful that this will not happen.
Now, my view is that a significant amount of this green waste material really ought to be home composted meaning that it does not enter the council’s waste stream in the first place and therefore doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything. There will still be a need, though, because not all green waste is suitable for home composting. But I’m afraid that if residents don’t want to compost there’s not a lot we can do about it. If you want to give it a try you can get discounted compost bins from here.
What also struck me at the same meeting is this. The cost saving for reducing the Green waste collection service to fortnightly is put at £50,000 - a service that covers the whole borough, 5 working days a week and for 7 months of the year. At the same meeting £15,000 (just under a third of that) was earmaked for hanging baskets in Barkingside and Hainault and a scheme to put bollards at Fullwell Parade was costed at £22,000 (just under half). It seems to me that some council contracts need to be examined more than others because some of them look like a complete rip-off. Perhaps Area 3 should ask the New Fairlop Oak who does their award winning hanging baskets and how much they cost? Or better still, let the contract to Wetherspoons. I’ll bet my boots it’ll be cheaper than whatever the council can come up with.