Thursday, August 02, 2012

Birmingham Labour comes clean, well almost, about its wheelie bin plans

Birmingham Labour comes clean, well almost, about its wheelie bin plans

The below e-mail has been sent to all Birmingham City Councillors this afternoon following my release of details about Labour secret plan to impose 3 wheelie bins per household on all households in Birmingham.

In the spirit of openness I will reproduce Cllr McKay’s e-mail below, unedited, and then comment on it afterwards.

From: James McKay []
Sent: 02 August 2012 16:26
To: James McKay
Subject: Update on the weekly collection scheme

Dear Colleagues,

I am sure you are aware of the publicising of details of the Council’s DCLG bid.

It is genuinely shocking that sensitive contents of a Private Report should be shared in this way.  The bidding process is highly competitive, with local authorities across the country seeking a share of a limited pot of money.  Understandably, Birmingham is seeking to maintain a competitive edge by not revealing the amount or details of its bid, which is not yet finalised.

I would make the following points:

1.        We know that wheeled bins are not suitable for every household.  Experience in neighbouring authorities and other core cities has shown between 90 -95% of houses are suitable for a wheeled bin. We envisage similar levels of suitability here.  The Council will of course not be introducing wheeled bins to properties that cannot accommodate them.
2.        Some households will want larger bins. Some households will want smaller bins. Some households won’t be suitable for wheeled bins at all.  We will obviously accommodate that. One size does not fit all.  
3.        We understand that some residents (the elderly and the disabled) may struggle with wheeled bins and we will continue to provide assisted collections to those households.
4.        The current system of open boxes allows the wind to scatter paper and recyclates, while wheeled bins would prevent this leading to an improved street scene. Furthermore the increased capacity for recycling will allow residents to recycle more.
5.        Experience shows that the use of wheeled bins does significantly increase recycling.
6.        We should not misunderstand the relative importance put on food waste collections in the DCLG’s assessment criteria. While the separate collection of food waste can increase recycling rates, the introduction of separate food waste collections would not rank as highly in the bidding process as proposals that maintain weekly collections of residual waste.
7.        The Council has not yet selected or consulted upon food waste collections, and at this stage all options are still open.
8.        80% of Local Authorities use wheeled bins.  

I am truly disappointed that sensitive information has been released, potentially damaging Birmingham’s chances of receiving millions of pounds from the government.

I believe this bid will increase recycling, give us cleaner streets, and be a more cost-effective form of collection.  It will also roll out an innovative incentive-based recycling project, further driving up recycling rates.  It is a progressive, flexible scheme, which will deliver for our city, while being sensitive to the needs of our residents.  In a time of austerity, this is a rare chance to make a transformational change to services in our city.

As always intended, on 17th August, we will start a full consultation with residents and the workforce. Through that process, we will give full details of the final bid.

Cllr James McKay
Harborne ward
Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City

My view:

The e-mail exposes everything I have said all week. THREE wheelie bins per household will be imposed on every single household or to paraphrase the above e-mail, 90 to 95% of properties in Birmingham will have wheelie bins, ONLY properties (5 to 10%) that physically do not have room for the wheelie bins will not have them.

The promised consultation will NOT be about whether residents want wheelie bins or not, but what size of domestic waste bin you want.

On top of this, a proposal for a city wide food recycling scheme to be introduced in 2013, has been abandoned.....which may I add, Cllr McKay denied to be the case in his webcast on Wednesday.

I could go over a number of claims that Cllr McKay makes in his e-mail, but I feel I have already answered many of his points in my previous blog at

As I have emphasised repeatedly, I am not against wheelie bins in principle; my property could easily accommodate three wheelie bins. What I am against is the Birmingham Labour Party imposing  wheelie bins on EVERY single household without any consultation as to whether residents want wheelie bins or not. I am also against the Birmingham Labour Party quietly dumping a food recycling scheme, which would have significantly increased Birmingham’s recycling rate.  

I am content that my efforts are in the public interest and have exposed the Birmingham Labour Party’s secret plans.


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