Nathan Elvery, Croydon’s Chief Executive, wanted to shut down all debate at the Town Hall tonight on the axing of the council’s free garden waste collections, despite receiving a petition with the signatures of more than 11,000 residents opposing the latest austerity cut to services.Croydon’s Tory group at the Town Hall are opposed to the penny-wise, pound-foolish measure, which the Labour-run council is introducing among a raft of other cuts being implemented as a result of funding reductions from the Conservative Government Chancellor, Gideon Osborne.
Under council meeting rules, it usually requires a petition with 1,000 signatures to force a debate.
Tonight’s full meeting of the council is taking place at the Town Hall from 6.30pm.
Elvery tried to keep the garden waste collections debate off the agenda altogether, claiming that he couldn’t verify all the signatures on the Tories’ petition. “Did Elvery really think that Croydon’s Conservatives could forge 10,000 signatures?” Inside Croydon‘s mole outside the Tories’ Purley offices said. “Not even the master of online sock-puppetry, Peter Morgan, could manage to invent that number of dodgy addresses.
“This is supposed to be the most open and transparent council in Croydon’s history, yet the £200,000 per year chief executive is trying to gag all discussion of an issue which clearly matters to an unprecedented number of local residents. It’s disgraceful.”
After some complaints over the weekend, Elvery backed down this morning, and the petition will now be heard in the council chamber tonight.
Tonight is just the seventh time that the full council has met in 2015, and only the second such meeting since July. Opportunities to debate the latest cuts to residents’ services are, therefore, rare enough as it is without the all-powerful Elvery determining what he will allow the borough’s elected representatives to discuss.
The final free garden waste collection by the council took place at the end of November. The council believes it will save £750,000 by withdrawing the service, as it continues to implement the Tory Government’s austerity measures. The council has asked residents whether they are prepared to pay between £55 and £104 per year for a green waste collection service, which may involve yet another wheelie bin parked outside their homes.
“I don’t know anyone who has signed up for the new service,” one senior figure on Katherine Street told Inside Croydon.
The Tories claim that the garden waste collection cut is another example of Croydon’s Labour leadership being spiteful and petty, trying to impose cuts in services on the mainly Conservative-voting south of the borough. The garden waste cut follows the decision to close the CALAT adult education centre in Coulsdon.But the loss of the garden waste collections could end up damaging the whole of the borough – people in Norbury and Thornton Heath have gardens, and garden waste, too, after all – and costing Council Tax-payers even more money.
“Many people, if they’re sensible, will just do more composting in their gardens,” our council source said.
“But this really is penny-wise and pound-foolish: all the garden waste the council contractors used to collect ought to have been used to form leaf mould for use in the council-run parks, or could even be sold back to residents for their own gardening use, saving the council money or even making a little cash.
“Instead, what will happen now is that people will stick bags of garden waste in their general wheelie bin, and it’ll go off to land-fill and cost us more money. Or there will be more fly tipping of green waste.
“Remember what happened when the council’s bulk waste collection service was withdrawn – the council now still has to pay for the collection of the items; now, it just happens after the sofas and mattresses have been fly tipped on our street corners. Ending the green waste collections will end up costing the borough a fortune.”
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