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Offline Geoff Reid

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Labour Group Challenge Conservatives over Rubbish Plans
« on: August 09, 2007, 07:50:12 AM »
This press release dropped into the Talkswindon inbox yesterday:

I didn't recognise the email address, but presumably it was from the Labour group. (Mark, you can send them to admin@talkswindon.org the admin team will publish all press releases from all political parties without favour or prejudice :) 




Labour Challenge Conservatives over Rubbish Plans

SWINDON LABOUR GROUP TODAY challenged the Conservative run Swindon Borough Council to answer the widespread concerns of Swindon residents over the impending end to weekly waste collections.  In a letter issued today Cllr Derique Montaut, Shadow Lead Member for Environment and Transport highlighted the problems of increased flies, maggots, rats and other vermin that some authorities have experienced following the introduction of Alternate Weekly Collection and called on his opposite number to listen to the concerns of people across Swindon and heed advice from waste experts, the Government, and a House of Commons Committee to ensure these problems are not experienced in Swindon.

Cllr Montaut said: ‘We launched our own inquiry into the Tory plans in April and since this time we have spoken to many people who are deeply concerned about the impact of these changes. Abandoning weekly collections is a big step.  WRAP, the Governments waste experts, state that full consultation is essential, but we see no evidence of this having been undertaken in Swindon.  They advise that a weekly food waste collection is provided.  However in Swindon food waste will only be collected fortnightly.  This risks a Tory designed blight of smells, maggots, rats and other vermin across Swindon.’

Cllr Montaut continued: ‘I have asked 15 key questions reflecting the concerns that we have heard from people on the doorstep, to find out why people have not been consulted, why weekly food collections are not being provided, and what special provisions are in place for larger families and for people living in flats and terraced housing.  The Tories will not even tell people when their weekly collections will end.  The people of Swindon deserve straight answers.’

Mark Dempsey, Labour spokesperson and a waste expert said: ‘We are very concerned to learn that the Tories are ignoring the advice of a House of Commons Committee which recommends that fortnightly collections are not appropriate for people living in flats and higher density housing.  Instead the Tories are scrapping weekly collections for flats without providing adequate recycling services for these areas.   This could create piles of waste attracting rats and flies as well as leading to people fly tipping and burning their waste.’

Mr Dempsey continued: ‘Ending weekly collections also needs to be combined with providing a high quality recycling service.  However Swindon only has one household waste recycling centre at Waterside Park where the queues are so large that waiting times have become unacceptable and neighbouring businesses have complained. We strongly support increased recycling.  Under Labour the national recycling rate has quadrupled, but because of the way the Tory Council is handling these changes there is a real threat that the Tories will turn people off recycling in Swindon.’

Cllr Montaut concluded: ‘The Labour Group calls on Swindon Borough Council to suspend plans to move to a fortnightly rubbish collection until a full public consultation has taken place; adequate recycling services are in place; a review has been conducted of best practice in other local authorities regarding communication and awareness raising with residents and monitoring the effectiveness of the scheme; a review has been conducted of the feasibility of a weekly collection of food waste as advised by WRAP; and an anti fly tipping strategy has been developed.’

Press release ends:


It was accompanied by this open letter from Monty to David Wren:

Quote
Open Letter to David Wren Regarding Alternate Weekly Collections of Waste

Dear Councillor Wren,

As the introduction of Alternate Weekly Collection (AWC) moves forward, there is increased public concern about what these new arrangements will mean.  Whilst the Labour Group strongly supports increased recycling and the targets and strategy established by central government, we are concerned about how these objectives are being met in Swindon.

Our concerns are focused upon the move towards Alternate Weekly Collections and the potential impacts that this may cause.  Some authorities have experienced significant problems with following the introduction of Alternate Weekly Collection with an increase in flies, maggots, rats and other vermin , resulting in widespread opposition and protest.  Studies from Canada have also revealed health concerns  and AWC has also been linked to increased incidences of fly tipping.

We would like to ensure that these problems are not experienced in Swindon.  In particular: 

1. We are concerned that while the Government and the Governments’ advisors WRAP recommend full consultation at least two years before commencing AWC , we see no evidence of such consultation having taken place by the Conservatives.  There were no questions on Alternate Weekly Collection in the Council consultation on its waste strategy in 2006 .

2. We are deeply concerned that food waste will only be collected fortnightly.  This has the potential to create a blight of flies, smells, maggots, rats and other vermin across Swindon.  WRAP’s research indicates that on environmental grounds the best solution is to collect food waste separately and weekly .  We support this advice.  Weekly food collections increase the amount of waste collected for recycling, and are a cost-effective means of diverting biodegradable materials from landfill .

3. We are also concerned about the current recycling facilities in Swindon.  WRAP advises that ‘AWC must be accompanied by a high quality recycling service’ .  However Swindon only has one household waste recycling centre at Waterside Park where the queues are so large that waiting times have become unacceptable and neighboring businesses have complained. 

4. We are concerned to hear that weekly collections will be scrapped for people living in flats, whilst the Council is still struggling to develop appropriate recycling solutions for such areas.  We call on the Conservatives to consider the advice from the House of Commons Committee for Communities and Local Government, which recommends that ‘AWC is clearly not appropriate to all areas, particularly highly urban areas characterised by much shared accommodation’ .

5.  It is not correct to state that AWC increases levels of recycling .  Other authorities have been able to successfully meet their recycling targets without the need to abandon weekly collections.  Our concern is that the move to Alternate Weekly Collections has been based on simply a cost saving measure, rather than improving services to the people.

6. It is also incorrect to state that unless we move to AWC, Swindon will face fines from the Government for exceeding our landfill allowances .  This implies Swindon faces a straight choice between recycling and landfill.  Swindon could be placing a much stronger emphasis on waste minimisation, or developing alternative facilities to landfill using advanced technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, and mechanical biological treatment (MBT).  These facilities can use waste to generate energy reducing waste and helping tackle climate change. 

I therefore seek the following assurances to the questions I raise below, to answer the genuine concerns of people across Swindon regarding these changes.

Questions:

1.   When will weekly collection cease in each ward of Swindon?
2.   What consultation have the council undertaken with residents over the planned changes to fortnightly collections? What percentage of residents supported plans to move to fortnightly collections?
3.   In the Council’s consultation what concerns did residents articulate regarding the planned move to fortnightly collections?
4.   What assessment have the Council made of the feasibility of a weekly collection of food waste, as advised by WRAP, to ensure that odour, flies and vermin are avoided? What would the estimated cost be of such a collection?
5.   What assessment of the Council made of the suitability of Alternate Weekly Collection in areas of high density population, given the problems caused by crowded streets and limited storage space, identified by the House of Commons Select Committee on Local Government Communities and Local Government?
6.   What provisions have the Council made for providing increased collections and capacity for larger families and households (compared to single occupancy households)?
7.   What assessment have the Council made of the impacts of Alternate Weekly Collection on odour and vermin given the problems highlighted by DEFRA’s health impact assessment of alternate week waste collections of biodegradable waste?
8.   What assessment has been made of the health and hygiene concerns posed by the disposal used nappies and sanitary products?
9.   What lessons have the Council learned from other local authorities implementing Alternate Weekly Collections, particularly regarding the need for continuing awareness raising and consultation with local residents?
10.   What strategy has the Council established to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of Alternate Weekly Collection and respond to public concerns?
11.   What additional resources have SBC been allocated by DEFRA under the EPCS block and through the DEFRA Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant?
12.   What has been the cost of implementing the new collection regime?
a.   What is the cost of supplying new collection boxes?
b.   What is the cost of introducing the wheelie bin service?
c.   What other costs have been incurred (eg new vehicles, staff, publicity etc)?
13.   What safeguards are in place to ensure that no properties are missed by the fortnightly collection?
14.   What are the objectives of moving to Alternate Weekly Collection? Is this just a cost saving measure?
15.   What advice and support have the Council sought and received from the Government’s Waste Implementation Programme (WIP) and Waste and Resource Programme (WRAP).

Unless I receive full assurances to all these questions that I have raised, I intend to give you notice of my intent to raise a resolution at the next full Council to oppose the Conservative policy.

In conclusion, the Labour Group calls on Swindon Borough Council to suspend plans to move to a fortnightly rubbish collection until:
1.   A full public consultation has taken place;
2.   Until adequate recycling services are in place to allow residents to reduce their waste before weekly collections are stopped;
3.   A review has been conducted of best practice in other local authorities regarding communication and awareness raising with residents and monitoring the effectiveness of the scheme;
4.   A review has been conducted of the feasibility of a weekly collection of food waste as advised by WRAP, to ensure that odour, flies and vermin are avoided;
5.   An anti fly tipping strategy has been developed.

I would appreciate a response within the next 14 days.

Yours faithfully,




Cllr Derique Montaut
Shadow Lead Member for Environment and Transport


And a couple of photos of Mark Dempsey. (ran in local elections this year. wasn't elected)




[attachment deleted by admin]



Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Labour Group Challenge Conservatives over Rubbish Plans
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007, 04:24:23 PM »
The adver is running with this...and a good thing too, it promises to be an entertaining, and interesting bunfight  :)


Quote from: http://devel.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/swindonnewsheadlines/display.var.1604695.0.its_utter_garbage.php

LABOUR politicians have challenged Swindon Council to answer resident concerns about the end of weekly waste collections.

But council leader Roderick Bluh has accused the Labour group of hypocrisy after they voted in favour of the new recycling regime.

In a public letter yesterday Coun Derique Montaut (Lab, Central) said households risked being infested with flies, maggots and vermin following the introduction of alternate weekly collections.

He called on Coun Bluh to heed advice from waste experts to ensure similar problems do not hit Swindon.

He said: "We launched our own inquiry into the Tory plans in April and since this time we have spoken to many people who are deeply concerned about the impact of these changes.

"Abandoning weekly collections is a big step. The Government's waste experts state that full consultation is essential, but we see no evidence of this having taken place in Swindon.
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"They advise that a weekly food waste collection is provided. However, in Swindon food waste will only be collected fortnightly.

"This risks a Tory-designed blight of smells, maggots, rats and other vermin across Swindon.

"I have asked 15 key questions reflecting the concerns we have heard from people, to find out why they have not been consulted, why weekly food collections are not being provided and what special provisions are in place for larger families and people living in flats."

Coun Bluh (Con, Dorcan) said: "We are extremely disappointed at the comments made by the Labour group, given that they were consulted about the recycling plan and voted in favour of it.

"They were fully involved and consulted in a series of cross-party meetings, because we wanted this to be a non-partisan issue.

"In addition I would add that it is factually wrong to say weekly collections are being abolished.

"We have introduced a weekly collection which makes Swindon quite unique, and there remains a general waste collection every other week.

"The recycling scheme was trialled at 10,000 homes in west Swindon and the majority view was one of support for the initiative.

"The council has already spent £2m of its own money on improving waste collection because the government requires it. We believe this letter to be a partisan attempt to gain political support."



A dissappointing and distinctly whinging reply from Cllr Bluh I thought....

I live in West Swindon and I don't recall ever receiving an invitation from SBC to either comment upon AWC or recycling, or be involved in a consultation. Where did the 'majority view' come from regarding Alternate Weekly Collections (AWC) ?.

I also question his assertion that the council has spent £2 million of it's own money....  erm, whose money would that be exactly ?.

I detect the pungent whiff of hypocrisy emanating from the Ivory Tower..... it's apparently okay for the administration to 'change it's position' on the chair of scrutiny because there is a financial element to consider....

....but it's not okay for the opposition group to change it's position on health, hygiene and financial grounds?. (two out of three ain't bad!).

Besides....AWC is the brainchild of a Labour government quango isn't it?, let's savour the bitter irony of a conservative dominated council pushing an unpopular Labour government policy forwards...

...while the Labour group opposes their own governments policy and starts banking votes in Eastcott and Central.

You reap what you sow, and planting a floor-crossing Blairite as lead member for the environment was always going to be an interesting, but expensive decision for the residents of Swindon.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Wrens private 'environmental enforcement' police force will be received by the public when they start issuing £80 on the spot 'enforcements fines' for everything from a carelessly dropped fag butt to walking more than the 'allowed' number of dogs.

I hope Monty gets a full set of answers from David Wren, and I hope he sends 'em to TS for scrutiny....but we shouldn't hold our breath, it will probably require a freedom of information request to be filed and responded to before David Wren will admit to the full financial extent of this debacle.

Councillor Bluh was daft if he thought the Labour group would ignore public concerns and opinion and continue supporting AWC all the way through to it's inception.


All in all, this episode supplies another set of reasons to consider voting for independant candidates at the next local elections.

 
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 05:19:59 PM by Geoff Reid »

Offline Mart

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Re: Labour Group Challenge Conservatives over Rubbish Plans
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2007, 10:39:35 PM »
Where did the council get £2m quid then? It's own money??? Had a whip round did they, a tombola perhaps? What the flip are they doing having speculative punts with that kind of money anyway, who the kin ell do they think they are?

Of course it is a partisan attempt to gain political support and don't be coming the innocent abroad with us Rodders, granted it appears to be written by a frenchman, which would be my concern (it could be an eu test to check that you are still fervent in your support for the european ideal)

You would have to be blind, deah and dumb (apologies if you are, I have had my diversity training) not too notice a few wheels starting to squeak on the old recycling bin wagon, what about your similarly hued buddies over in Dartform mmm? Or perhaps you do indeed sense the onset of political embarassment and have the strange politicians' version of deaf, dumb or blindness that afflicts them when they back the wrong pony.

I don't give a flying duck what political party made what decision or what 10,000 households allegedly said in west swindon. How many said what by the way and in response to what question?

If you have the balls and genuinely believe you have the support of 'the people' have a referendum.

But you haven't, you don't and you won't.

Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

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Re: Labour Group Challenge Conservatives over Rubbish Plans
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2007, 12:30:29 PM »
 ::)

You are bit of cynic Mart, but when you are elected as a Swindon First Councillor you will be eligible to take over the Chair of Scrutiny from Kevin small. 

No I don't think the Tories would want that - you would ask too many questions which is probably the reason why they want Kevin small.

Incidentally - allegedly - Roderick Bluh is not in the best of humour at the moment - who has upset him I wonder, surely not the backlash over this small business.  anyway..............

 :WTF: