Saturday, August 04, 2012

Labour’s wheelie bin plans start to unravel

Birmingham Labour’s bonkers wheelie bin plans start to unravel

Interesting letter in today Birmingham Mail from the Cabinet member behind the proposed wheelie bin project, Councillor James McKay. His letter shows the first sign of the complete unravelling of the Council’s secret bid for government money to impose 3 wheelie bins per household for every household in Birmingham.

Readers of my blog will be aware the government are inviting bids from Councils for funds which will help Councils maintain weekly domestic waste collections and increase recycling.

The previous administration had intended to bid for the following:
  • increased recycling collection
  • a reward scheme for residents who recycle
  • a city wide food recycling scheme.  

Talks were at an advanced stage in the construction of an anaerobic digester which would rot down food waste and create methane to be recycled for heat generation. The introduction of the food waste recycling scheme alone would have increased Birmingham’s recycling rate from 32% to above 50%, since about 40% of residual waste is food waste. Also by recycling food waste, the issue of cats and foxes ripping open black sacks would end, since the sacks would no longer contain the food waste that attracts cats and foxes.

The Labour administration have now dropped the previous administrations plans and instead have gone for a bonkers scheme to impose 3 wheelie bins per household for every house in Birmingham. I have argued that NOT all households in Birmingham can handle wheelie bins, due to a lack of storage space, poor access to the rear of properties or steep front gardens. Indeed, almost the entire Victorian and Edwardian housing stock of Birmingham is not suitable for wheelie bins. Places like the tight terrace houses of Kings Heath, Balsall Heath, Selly Park, Harborne, Acocks Green, etc are complete non-starters for wheelie bin short 50% of the houses of Birmingham are not suitable for wheelie bins.

So what do we get in todays Birmingham Mail, an admission, at last, from Councillor James McKay that the Council will “consider residents who are unable to have wheelie bins because, for example, there is no rear access to the property, or where the property is on a steep hill”

That admission is step forward , but it does raise the following questions:
-          If 50% of Birmingham housing stock is not suitable for wheelie bins, what service is he going to offer these areas to stop black bags being ripped open?
-          Will he now at last accept that he was wrong to drop the previous administrations plans to introduce a food waste recycling scheme, which would have ended the ripping open of black bags by cats and foxes?
-          Will he now alter the Councils bid for wheelie bins so that only 50% of houses have wheelie bins imposed on them?
-          Finally in the true spirit of devolution, will he agree that the final say on which roads have wheelie bins is decided by the 3 Wards Councillors, who know their own Wards far better than a distant Cabinet member in the Council House?


At 8:42 AM, Blogger SarahN said...

I'd quite like a wheelie bin! My mum in Bristol has one but also has a box for food recycling and a green one for garden recycling. I take your point about the terraced houses though although they do have dude passages where they keep the dustbins don't they?

At 3:55 PM, Blogger martin mullaney said...

Hi Sarah, as I've said previous I am not against wheelie bins per se, but what I do object to is:
a) the assumption by the Council that almost all properties (90 to 95% using their numbers) can accomodate wheelie bins
b) dumping a viable food waste recycling scheme.

If 3 wheelie bins per property was imposed on the terrace roads of Kings Heath, all the the bins would be left either on the pavement or in the small front gardens....which in turn would look a mess.

Most of the terrace properties in Kings Heath have one rear alleyway that serves up to 20 houses....and most of these are overgrown and impassable. At the moment, the householders can carry a black bin bag through the house. A wheelie bin would have to be left in the front garden.


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