WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on how the council opted to pay extra for the new bins which are so unpopular with the borough’s residents
Residents, thousands of whom are already angry at the invasion of their properties by unwanted additional wheelie bins, are likely to be furious to learn that our cash-strapped council opted for the smaller bins, at an additional cost of £2.3million.
The new bin collection system, and the expected #CroydonBinChaos, starts next week, with residents already braced for a gap of “21 days or more” between bin collections in warning letters from Veolia.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents to an unscientific Inside Croydon poll have expressed their unhappiness with the new bins.
The council is now claiming that the three-week wait for a bin collection will affect only 18per cent of households. It must be purely coincidental, then, that on a weekend when a last-gasp extra recycling and household refuse collection has been promised, the council’s MyAccount online system, which residents might use to report missed collections, is being taken offline over the bank holiday weekend “for essential maintenance work”…
Croydon Council, and the “Clean and Green” cabinet member, Stuart Collins, claim that by providing smaller bins for landfill waste, they will somehow improve recycling rates from 38 per cent to 50 per cent, while also saving the borough’s budget money.
One council official, Tom Lawrence, the “head of environment and leisure”, has written recently that, “Limiting the size of landfill bin will provide an impetus to address this [the lack of recycling], whilst the larger recycling bins will not limit the amount of recycling in the same way the 55l boxes currently do, giving us the best chance of recycling more.”
Yet, as Lawrence really ought to know, there has never been any capacity limit on Croydon residents’ recycling boxes.
If residents wanted extra boxes for extra recycling capacity, they were able to request them from his department and make good use of them.
In a twist which only the execs in Fisher’s Folly could come up with, the council is refusing to recycle the soon-to-be redundant recycling boxes, insisting that residents can only dispose of them by taking them to the council dump.
The cost of issuing thousands of smaller wheelie bins will do nothing to placate the mounting opposition to the scheme.
According to correspondence seen by Inside Croydon, Lawrence says that the new bins which have been imposed on residents borough-wide were an additional part of the scheme and will cost the Council Tax-payers £2.3million.
The changes are part of a new contract with Veolia, a deal agreed through the South London Waste Partnership, which also includes Kingston, Merton and Sutton. When a similar new system was imposed on neighbouring Sutton last year, the resulting #SuttonBinShame saw some residents go for two months without having the refuse collected, as Veolia struggled to cope.
In his correspondence, Lawrence wrote that the Veolia contract is due to save Croydon Council £5million per year through “economies of scale by procuring the services across four boroughs (Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton); Guaranteed income from garden waste and commercial waste; Increased revenue from sale of recycling”.
Lawrence wrote: “The cost of purchasing the blue recycling bins was part of Veolia’s contractual bid, so Croydon has not incurred any additional expenditure for these.
“The decision to reduce the size of the landfill bins was Croydon’s and the cost of these bins is £2.3million, however this will be offset by savings of around £10million in avoided landfill costs over the next 10 years as a result of the smaller bins and the increased recycling revenue.”
Notably, nowhere in the head of environment’s letter does he mention that, also as part of a SLWP agreement, Croydon will be paying an additional £10million per year for the use of Viridor’s waste incinerator at Beddington. While those costs will obviously be offset against rising amounts of landfill tax, incinerator use is likely to work against improving recycling rates, and will therefore reduce the possibilities of Lawrence’s promised increased revenues from the sale of recycling.
So another lose-lose from Croydon Council.
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