Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Questions and Answers from Transportation and Street Services – 27th June 2006

As new Scrutiny Chair for Transportation and Street Services I am holding weekly meetings with Neil Dancer, Chief Highway Engineer, and Ian Coghill, Assistant Director of Fleet and Waste Management. The meetings are organized around answering the questions set out at the bottom of this e-mail.

The two departments are presently pulling together information to answer these questions. However I am satisfied that one of the questions has now been answered.

The question is:
What is the timetable for the roll out of doorstep recycling in south Birmingham?

The answer is:
Extension of the door step composting collection scheme to cover 100,000 households began in early June. It will be complete by September 2006

The extension of the doorstep plastic, metal and glass collection service will expand in two stages. First stage will be an expansion in mid-July to Northfield. The next expansion will be in October to include all the households covered by the composting collection service.

A number of problems with the composting collection have already been identified:
1) it is taking longer than expected to collect the compost. This is due to two reasons (a) an unexpected huge amount of compost being left out. (b) residents keep tying the sacks, which means the refuse collectors have to cut open the sacks to empty them into the truck.
2) Residents are getting confused as to which week is compost collecting week. As result bags of compost are being left out for a full week. A leaflet will be distributed in the next few weeks to re-inform residents of the collection dates
3) Residents are using the green waste bags to put domestic waste into them. The compost collecting crews have stickers to put onto these bags, but the level of domestic waste in green bags is so high, they have already run out of stickers
4) The compost crews are getting exhausted due to huge amount of compost they are having to lift and tip into the trucks.

The collected compost is being sent to one of five companies:
i) Simpro – most compost from south Birmingham goes here. They are based near Droitwich where they have long lines of compost heaps which they keep regularly turning. The compost takes about six weeks to rot and is sold onto the farm industry
ii) Moodys – most compost from north Birmingham goes here. The rotted composted is bagged and sold at two outlets in Birmingham – Dennings DIY store in Northfield and Gravelly Hill Garden Centre in Gravelly Hill
iii) Rymans – rotted compost goes the farm industry
iv) Neutramulch – I don’t have any information on this company
v) The Council’s own Cofton Park compost heaps. These will take some compost as an experiment to see how they do. This facility has bagging facilities, so could easily sell the compost back to the public.

The remaining questions I awaiting answers for are as follows:

Street Services

Could we have a scheme where graffiti is removed off brickwork without the need for prior permission from the owner? This is a particular nuisance with empty shops or abandoned houses where the Council insists the non-existent owner must sign a form to allow the graffiti to be removed.

What is happening with reducing the cost of installing dropped kerbs to allow parking in front gardens?

What is happening with providing funds to allow one residents parking scheme per Ward per Year? At the moment it is only one residents parking scheme per District per year.

Why can’t Councillors be provided with a Ward map showing where road accidents have happened over the last 5 years? This would allow Councillors to prioritize traffic calming measures, if any.

What are we doing to make it easier to install mobile CCTV cameras on lampposts? At the moment the Highways Department insist that any lamp post that is to have a rapid response mobile CCTV has to be first individually tested to ensure the lamp post will not topple over. They then charge an exorbitant rate to put the camera on and off the lamppost.

What are we doing to make it easier and quicker to change Traffic Regulation Orders?

When is the Highways Department going to start removing Advertising A-boards that clutter our High Streets? Other Councils do this, but Birmingham Highways Department refuses to do so.


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