Lib Dem Councillors in B&NES are warning that the Conservative Council’s plan to reduce waste collections to fortnightly could lead to ‘bin chaos’ this winter.
B&NES residents have been receiving letters from the Council in recent days, announcing the change and explaining whether they will be issued with a wheelie bin or (in Bath city centre) a gull-proof sack.
Lib Dem Leader, Councillor Dine Romero (Southdown) commented: “Many local people are still angry that this new policy is being imposed on them with no consultation and with no choice. For others, the letters which have been sent out in the last few days will be their first notice that their collections are being cut.
“One of my main concerns is that the Conservative administration has opted for one of the smallest wheelie bins on the market. These 140 litre bins can only hold about three bags of rubbish and are smaller than a typical wheelie bin, such as those used in Bristol.
“Residents are allowed to ask for a larger bin, or a gull proof sack, but the deadline is 5 May – months before the bins are being delivered.
“Bristol City Council changed to wheelie bins some years ago. However Bristol residents were given large bins in the first place and then the smaller, 180 litre bin was introduced some years later on. This gave people a chance to get used to the system.
“Other Councils have introduced wheelie bins at the same time as new recycling options, such as the introduction of food waste collections.
“B&NES residents will not have such adaptations. Instead we are getting a change from unrestricted collections to, effectively, a three bags per fortnight quota and no additional recycling options. This has the potential to cause enormous problems for some.
“Without a pilot scheme the Council has no way of knowing if most people will be able to manage. We could have a winter of bin chaos on our hands.”
Councillor Andy Furse (Kingsmead) added: “I think a lot of residents will be shocked to receive a letter from the Council telling them that their Council Tax is going up again – by 3.5% this year – and also that their bin collections are being reduced to fortnightly.
“Residents are once again being asked to pay more for less by this Conservative administration.
“It’s good that we have won the argument on some sensitive areas of Bath city centre retaining weekly collections and we do support the use of gull-proof sacks, which were introduced by the Lib Dem administration. However, the visual aspect of wheelie bins is also a consideration.
“Estate agent boards are banned in Bath Conservation Area because they have a detrimental impact, but many residents will have no option but to keep visually intrusive wheelie bins in their front gardens or on the street.
“This is a clear double standard and a problem that the Council has not addressed.”
Bath and North East Somerset Council issued the following statement: “The Council’s plans to recycle more, keep streets cleaner and save money by reverting to every other week rubbish collections were first approved by Cabinet in July last year – and details were published in the local media, via the Council’s website and social media channels and with a double page spread in the Council’s residents’ magazine (distributed to 76,000 households).
“Since then, the Council has taken a number of steps (including recycling roadshows across the district) to explain the planned collection changes and engage with residents to work out suitable options for rolling out the collection changes to bring the Council in line with over 70% of UK councils, including our neighbouring authorities.
“From July 2016 to date, the Council has continued to provide updates on developments and explain that we are not proposing a “one size fits all” approach – and this latest round of letters clarifies this.
“We have repeatedly stated that we are keen to hear from households who are concerned that they may have difficulty with the changes (such as larger families or houses of multiple occupation) and we will work with them to help ensure they are recycling all they can and discuss possible alternatives for their rubbish collection (such as larger bins).
“We are asking for people to respond with any such concerns before 5 May, in order to allow sufficient time to discuss their needs.”