What You Can Get Away With » Waste and Recycling

For what sins committed in a previous life have we found ourselves inflicted with Eric Pickles in this one? I’ve written many times about the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, each time sure that he’s reached a new nadir, that he can go no lower, and then every time he confounds expectations to find an even lower common denominator. Indeed, so bad has be been at DCLG that he makes councillors I’ve met from all parties positively wistful for the days of Hazel Blears.

One of the main problems I have with Pickles’ reign at the DCLG is the centralist localism he’s continually prescribed. The paradox in that description is intentional – Pickles et al talk about a new age of localism for local councils, but it only means that you’re free to decide locally which shade of his policy you wish to implement. It’s a ruse to try and get councils to take the blame for centrally-imposed funding cuts that will reduce services to the bone. See for instance, the Barnet Graph of Doom, or Birmingham’s Jaws of Doom for a view of how perilous the situation is. As council leaders are warning today, things are dire, and a further 2% cut could be catastrophic.

In this light, the fact that Pickles could find £250m from his budget to pay for councils to keep weekly bin collections does seem an odd priority. (Full disclosure: Colchester Borough Council is receiving money from this fund) It’s right that MPs question this – as Tristram Hunt did in the House of Commons on Monday. Their exchange is worth recording:

Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab): In towns and cities across England, local authorities are being forced to close museums, shut care homes and end library provision, but the Government found £250 million to empty the bins more regularly. What kind of abysmal, philistine, reactionary Government put dustbins above library books?

Mr Pickles: The people who are putting dustbins above those things are people who care about the general service provided to the electorate. The hon. Gentleman is a bit of a luvvie, so no doubt he is looking intensely at the drop in culture, but that is a matter for local decision, and he is wholly wrong. People should look at how an authority can get more money in by exploiting and using its cultural heritage. Frankly, he is just lining up a bunch of luvvies. He should listen a little bit more.

There we have it – bin collections are part of ‘the general service provided to the electorate’ but libraries and culture are just something for ‘a bunch of luvvies’. That’s the Pickles view of the world, where weekly bin collections are sacrosant, but the work of libraries is irrelevant. Who needs culture when you can have a black plastic sack instead?

, , ,

Someone came here on a search for ‘when is rubbish collection day in Colchester when there is a bank holiday?’ and I can tell you that next week it’s one day later than your usual date. So if your waste is normally collected on a Monday, it’ll be collected on Tuesday, if you normally have a Tuesday collection, it’ll be on Wednesday and so on with regular Friday collections being picked up on Saturday morning. Hope that helps – for more information you can check the Council’s website here.

Just had this information from the Council’s waste and recycling team about how collections will be different during the weeks of the 18th April, 25th April and 2nd May because of the bank holidays.

Recycling and rubbish collections over upcoming Bank Holidays period

Recycling and rubbish collections will take place one day later than usual over the Easter and early May Bank Holiday period, as in previous years.

From Good Friday 22 April until Saturday 8 May all recycling and rubbish will be collected the day after your usual collection day.

This also means that if your usual collection day is Thursday, you will receive a collection on the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday Friday. If your usual collection day is Friday, you will receive a collection on Saturday for three consecutive weeks.

Please remember to put your recycling and rubbish out by 7am on the morning of your collection day. All collections will return to your normal day from Monday 9 May.

Visit www.colchester.gov.uk/recycling or call 01206 282700 for more details about recycling and rubbish collections.

To check the opening times of the recycling centres for household waste (the ‘tip’) over the Bank Holiday break please visit www.essex.gov.uk/recyclingcentres or call 0845 603 7625.

Remember localism? That grand idea that Government ought to stop interfering in the business of local councils and let them run services the way they thought would be best for their residents.

If you don’t, don’t worry. Turns out the Government – or at least the DCLG – doesn’t either. Chris White did a good job of pointing out some of the flaws in the Localism Bill on Lib Dem Voice this morning, but the real torpedoing of the idea below the waterline turns out to be a self-inflicted wound.

The only real surprise is that the wound appears to have been caused by Bob Neill rather than Eric Pickles, but as Neill is just echoing similar comments previously made by Pickles and giving them the stamp of kneejerk policy, he’s clearly doing Pickles’ work for him here.

Yes, it seems that councils should no longer have the power to decide how to collect their residents’ domestic waste as Bob Neill has clearly researched the issue in depth, spent lots of times with the various modelling tools and data sources that show the pros and cons of different collection methods, then come to a reasoned conclusion been reading the Daily Mail far too often, and decided that Whitehall knows best. Yes, he’s going to step in and “reverse the legacy of Labour’s savage cutbacks to weekly rubbish collections” which shows a spectacular failure by a local government minister to note that a) councils of all political stripes have moved away from weekly rubbish collections, and b) there are a whole lot more Tory-run councils than there are Labour-run ones, none of which have shown much of a desire to reverse any supposed legacy in this area.

Neill also seems to have spent the last month or so out of the country – or at least, I assume he has, otherwise he’s completely failed to notice the thick blanket of white slippery stuff that’s covered much of the country in that time. It’s perhaps not a shock to most people to discover that bin lorries – which move relatively slowly and are required to start and stop frequently – don’t always operate too well on icy roads.

What’s becoming clear is that rather than becoming the enabler and champion for localism, the DCLG is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way it happens. Indeed, it says something about the way Britain is governed in that we still have a centrally-run department for local government, seemingly dedicated to ensuring that nothing at all happens locally that Whitehall hasn’t approved of. Labour were at least open about this centralised controlling tendency, decreeing new sets of targets and indicators almost daily, but now we’re in a situation where councils are told to do what they want right up until the moment when a minister shouts ‘stop!’ and berates them for doing it.

True localism would see the DCLG being abolished and Eric Pickles happily proclaiming that he’s made himself redundant, but I doubt we’ll see that any time soon.

, , ,

From the Council’s Street Services team:

Refuse and Recycling Collections

We are carrying out refuse and recycling collections today and Paul English, the Street Care and Recycling Operations Manager, will inform you of our success rate at the end of the working day and we will ensure that the website and media are updated. Staff worked very hard yesterday and most collections were able to be made.

The weather forecast for the next few days shows little sign of improvement and therefore the same arrangements will apply where we will try to collect as much as we can using a variety of vehicles. We constantly review the situation and ensure as many collections as possible and Paul and his team will carry out a final review of the situation in the morning before crews are deployed. It is worth noting that collections are taking longer than normal in most areas but collection times may also be earlier as drivers choose the most suitable routes. It is therefore imperative that residents have their waste available for collection by 0700 and remain patient until 1600. We will not collect in the dark where conditions are much more hazardous.

I would also ask that any communication residents may wish to make is through our Customer Service Centre on 282700 or recycling@colchester.gov.uk and not on direct lines. We greatly appreciate Members who do pass on emails to residents as communication is vital to service success. I would though point out that we will not be deviating from our normal schedule and therefore residents who do not receive a collection by 1600 are advised to simply retrieve and store their waste and recycling.

Gritting of roads and pavements

The gritting and salting of the highway network is the responsibility of Essex County Council. They have informed us that they will focus their gritting resources on keeping major roads clear. This includes all ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads, access routes for emergency services, rural link roads and major public transport routes. Therefore, estate or residential roads are not included whether they are on inclines or not. Colchester Borough Council will be keeping the pavements clear on the roads included in the memorandum of understanding and the list of the roads is on the CBC website linked here.

And some other advice on clearing pavements from Essex County Council:

Contrary to popular myth, it’s fine for you to take action to clear your local pavements and pathways.

When clearing snow and ice -sensibly does it!

* Don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk
* Start early. It’s much easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it;
* Don’t use water under any circumstances as it may replace snow with dangerous black ice
* Think about where you’ll put shovelled snow so that it doesn’t block paths or drainage channels
* Spread some salt on the area you have cleared. It’ll help stop ice forming. Table salt or dishwasher salt will work but avoid spreading on plants or grass. If salt is not available then sand or ash are good alternatives
* Elderly or vulnerable neighbours may need help in icy conditions. You can phone Helpline on 01206 769779 if you think someone is in difficulty.
* For more information please visit the DirectGov website here

,

I’ve had news from Street Services about what will be collected in the next week. Collections on Friday were cancelled because of the poor weather, but services will operate next week. However, no green waste will be collected, so the next green waste collection will be after Christmas, when natural trees will also be collected.

However, the collection of black sacks and recyclables (plastics this week) will go on as normal, though some streets within the Borough – particularly cul de sacs, roads on slopes and quiet lanes – may be inaccessible to the collection teams because of road and footpath conditions.

Just a quick reminder for those of you in Colchester that tomorrow we have our first public meetings as part of the waste consultation – 12-2pm and 5-7pm in the Moot Hall. We are planning to video some of it and make it available on the web for people who can’t there to see.

And if you haven’t already, you’ve still got until the end of January to respond to the consultation – see the latest edition of the Courier, or fill out the survey online.

After quite a few months of work through the Task and Finish Group that I chair, I’m pleased to say that our waste and recyling consultation is now live on Colchester Council’s website. It will also be in the next edition of the Courier, which should be landing on doorsteps throughout the Borough in the next week.

If you live in Colchester, then please take a few minutes to let us know your views about waste and recycling, and what we should be doing about them. I know people are cynical about council and government consultations, but I can promise you that this is an open consultation, and we want to know what the people of Colchester think about waste and recycling so we can create a system that’s tailored to your needs, rather than coming up with a system and then attempting to make the people fit into it.

The consultation is ongoing until the middle of January, and there’s also a public event scheduled for December 1st in the Moot Hall, where you can find out more. We’re also in the process of organising meetings with the Borough’s town and parish councils to ensure we get a wide selection of views, so look out for details of that happening in your area.

,

Those of you reading this in Colchester may be interested to know that the first part of our consultation on our waste and recycling processes is set to start next month – full details and a survey will be in the next edition of the Courier, which you should receive around the beginning of November. There’ll also be a section on the Council’s website (which I’ll link to when it goes live), as well as public meetings, and we’re looking at ways to organise meetings in conjunction with the various parish and town councils to ensure that we hear a range of views from across the Borough, not just in the town.

And if you’re wondering why we’re going through this process, then take a look at what Hilary Benn is announcing today – government plans to ban anything recyclable from going to landfill. While the percentage level of recycling is often the figure discussed in terms of waste collection, one of the key factors the Task and Finish Group I’ve been chairing has been looking at is the question of how much residual waste goes to landfill at the end of the process because it seemed to us that while increasing the amount that gets recycled is a laudable aim, reducing the total amount of waste produced would become the more important target over the coming years.

,

Had a Policy Review and Development Panel meeting tonight, which is a Council committee I quite like being on as it tends to achieve things – even if they are small – and the meetings don’t drag on for hours. More information on everything we discussed here, if you’re interested, including our rather lengthy Tree Policy. Yes, you are allowed to question how many trees were sacrificed to print copies of the policy.

But, the most important thing coming out of there is that it looks as though November will be a busy month, especially for me, as not only is the waste consultation – and I might write a long blog post about that sometime- now scheduled to happen then, but we should also be having another consultation about town centre developments, including the whole question of St Botolph’s and the bus station. Should be interesting, just a question of making sure we have proper consultations, not the usual ‘Do you agree with all our suggestions? Yes/Hell Yes’ type of one, or the Essex County Council-style one, where you consult, get 4,000 responses that disagree with you and then ignore them in favour of the ‘silent majority’.

, ,