There’s mounting annoyance at the council’s official dumps each weekend, as residents trying to do the “decent thing” find themselves in traffic queues which take more than 30 minutes to access the Purley Oaks or Factory Lane recycling centres.
Croydon appears to have created a perfect storm for itself, with the introduction of its opt-in green waste collection service at the same time that a Surrey recycling centre at Caterham has been closed.
The free garden waste collection service was withdrawn as a consequence of Tory Government austerity cuts at the end of last year, with a paid-for service, costing between £55 and £105 per annum, offered to residents in its place.
This change of service has been portrayed by the opposition Tories as the Labour-run council discriminating against the residents of the leafier suburbs of the south of the borough, even though it is understood that there may be keen gardeners to be found in green outposts of such gritty northern wards as South Norwood, Norbury and Waddon, who may also have need for such a service.
It’s worth noting here, though, that the council’s green recycling collections are probably not the most eco-friendly option they might have offered. More than a decade ago, composting bins were provided to residents as a nudge towards recycling more, and wasting less. Today, for a more modest one-off charge than for the collection service, composting bins could have been sold by the council to residents, offering a longer-term solution and reducing the need for monthly collection truck routes creating more air pollution.
The recycling depots handle a wide range of materials, not only green waste, but the increase in the number of visitors has been noticeable since the introduction of the charges for green waste collection and the closure of the dump in Caterham. And weekends, when most people have more time available to spend sitting in a queue of cars, tend to be the busiest time.
Two visits to the council dump at the weekend by our loyal reader saw them queuing for around half an hour on each occasion – not the one-hour-plus which some Tory councillors have claimed.
But it was still noticeably longer than on previous visits, with the queues at Purley Oaks building from 8am on Sunday. With dozens of cars idling and their engines still running, this is hardly the greenest of solutions to recycling.
According to Stuart Collins, Labour’s street-cleaning and environment cabinet member, the use of the recycling centres is under review. He claims 14,000 residents have signed up for the garden waste collection service – a tidy £750,000 income to add to his department’s budget each year, especially in future when the one-off cost of the new wheelie bins is expected to reduce.
It has also been suggested that some of the queues may include people who live outside Croydon. Surrey County Council’s depot at Chaldon Road, Caterham, has been closed since March for “essential maintenance”, and is not due to re-open until the end of this month. Surrey does recommend that its residents use an alternative dump, south of Redhill, but there’s a strong suspicion that some have opted to drive into Croydon.
With the staff at the recycling centres rarely, if ever, asking for proof of Croydon residence from the dumpers, it appears that hard-pressed Croydon Council is yet again providing a subsidy for Surrey, albeit unwittingly.
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