It was Big Eric Pickles who said, “It’s a basic right for every Englishman and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.”
Mind you, it was the very same local government minister who said of local authority CEOs that, “I want all chief executives to take a pay cut. They should be paid no more than the Prime Minister. Some are paid £250,000, which is ludicrous. These are ridiculous salaries that can’t be justified.”
Here in Conservative-controlled Croydon, we are heading towards fortnightly collections of our rubbish (though the chicken curry debris will still be picked up each week), and we live in a council with a CEO whose “ludicrous” salary is nearly £100,000 a year more than David Cameron.
Potholes. Street lights. Grafitti. Wheelie bins and rubbish collections.
The casework of a local councillor can be pretty mundane, unglamorous at times, if the most common complaints from local residents are anything to go by. So getting the waste and recycling policy right ought to be a real priority, both in terms of the living standards of the community, as well as politically.
Yet in a classic example of “That is so Croydon”, our council is introducing fortnightly rubbish collections in the same month when their mates at Westminster announced a multi-million fund (where did they find that money from?) for local councils to keep weekly bin collections, as well as £805 million to allow a “freeze” on Council Tax. And all just in time for the 2012 local elections…
Yet even the scheme to deliver the silly little R2D2 food waste bins to every household in the borough appears to have been mismanaged by Croydon, where confusion and misunderstandings are routine.
Each household was supposed to receive at least 100 liner bags for use in the food waste “caddie”. Yet we have heard that many locals reckon that they have been given less than 25 liner bags – which they will have to replace at their own expense once they have all been used.
Council tax-payers have also complained about the size of the caddie; some object to the amount of space it takes up in their smaller kitchens; others, meanwhile, with larger households, think the caddie’s too small.
And take, for example, this letter from an Inside Croydon reader:
“Just received my new food waste bin in preparation for the changes to the refuse collection and was struck as to how small it was. A quick check on the council website showed that this bin is 23 litres in capacity.
“Further reading of the FAQs explains that, ‘Food waste makes up at least 25% of the average landfill bin’, but the sums don’t add up. Croydon residents get one of three sizes of bin – 140, 180 & 240 litres depending on the household. Each household has received only a single food waste bin, so they will have capacity to recycle only 16.4%, 12.8% or 9.6% of their usual food waste capacity. Are larger households being penalised or will there be extra provision made for them?
“According to the council website: ‘Can I get a larger bin? Can I get a second bin?: No, the council only supplies one bin per household’.
“Then what about our neighbours in ‘properties with five or more doorbells’? Flats are due to get this service by March 2012, but what form will that take? Hundreds of little boxes stacked outside the blocks in New Addington? Or perhaps communal slop bins?
“Oh well, Christmas is coming, always something to look forward to . I suppose we can also look forward to grinding up/cleaving a turkey carcass just to comply with the new food waste rules…
“All this just to ‘save taxpayers around £600,000 a year compared to the old system’. Are Croydon’s residents happy to put up with this reduction in service for a 0.4% saving compared to the council tax revenue of £145,525,000 last financial year?
“Surely there are simpler, less costly and less inconvenient ways of saving £600,000 – salaries at the top for starters.
“I hope that Inside Croydon can present these concerns to the wider Croydon public in its usual compelling style and in a way the local rags seem incapable of or uninterested in doing.”
One suggestion that has been made is that if you don’t want to use the silly little food waste bins, you can phone the council and they will come to collect the device. After all, if you already compost your (raw) kitchen waste (peelings, tea bags and the like), possibly using a council-provided composting bin, then you will have already reduced your black bin bag/landfill waste significantly over a period of time.
It would not take many Croydon households to return the food waste boxes and caddies for it to have a significant effect on the savings that the council had hoped to make. It would mean that your cooked food waste will sit (bagged up, presumably) in your wheelie bin for a couple of weeks though.
All it should take is a call to 020 8726 6200 – although whether it is because loads of other Croydon residents are trying to do the same thing, or the staff cuts at the council have left no one to answer the phones, one call this week to the relevant department took 35 minutes before it was answered.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
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