Scrap The Garden Tax!

In the last couple of days (as every week) I have had a number of complaints about the green wheelie bin charges.

As I’ve said before, it’s an ill thought policy because once you charge people, the Council can’t take away the dumped bags – because people who have paid would rightly be furious that their neighbour gets theirs taken away for free.

So you are left with mountains of green bags around the city. Labour’s solution is to employ a “waste minimisation team” to sticker the dumped bags, knock doors and try and persuade people to take them in.

The problem comes when people don’t comply. Or when the bags have been fly tipped outside other people’s houses, so the culprits aren’t the people who are spoken to.

The Conservative’s solution would solve the problem. We are pledging that if elected in May we will scrap the garden tax, refund the people who have already paid, and remove the mountains of dumped bags from our streets. And yes, we can fund it. There are lots of places where money could be saved – such as the Policy Department, which is costing over £3 million and coming up with ideas such as a congestion charge and/or a working place parking levy for Birmingham. Ideas which we can do without!

So vote Conservative on May 22nd and axe the garden tax!

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Non-Story In The News Again

I’ve blogged here before about the long queues at our tips – particularly Lifford Lane – since Birmingham’s Labour Councillors started charging £35 to remove green garden waste. With only a tiny fraction of Birmingham households opting to pay for the charge, it was obvious the queues at the tips would grow massively as people sought to dispose of their garden waste there for free.

When I mentioned this before, one Labour Councillor declared it a non-story on Twitter. Well, the non-story is being reported in the Birmingham Mail again today – the latest news being that bin men had to be diverted from their rubbish collecting duties yesterday (Good Friday) to deal with the massive queues of people trying to offload garden waste at the tip.

Last time it was residents in the queue who were angry, now – according to the Mail – the bin men are angry too at being diverted from their normal duties.

Meanwhile the collections for those people who HAVE signed up for the £35 per year green waste service have, in many cases, been little short of shambolic.

I have a number of roads where residents report getting missed collections every single time there should be a collection. Either the lorry doesn’t come to the road at all, or it comes but only empties some people’s bins and not others.

And then there are the people who have ordered and paid for bins weeks ago, but still haven’t got them. Needless to say, they’re pretty angry too.

The city is also awash with piles of green bags which have been left out by people who either don’t know about the new service, or don’t care and have just fly tipped them.

This was an ill thought out policy. It will cost more money in the long run if extra personnel have to be diverted to the tip to cope. The queues of traffic around Lifford Lane can’t be helping air quality in the Kings Norton area. The Council is having to employ a department of “wheelie bin police” to sticker fly tipped bags and knock doors to tell people to take them off the pavements. And as for the fly tipped bags which aren’t taken back in (often because they were fly tipped outside a house by someone who lives elsewhere) – either the Council will eventually have to spend money taking them away, or they will leave them permanently and the city will look more and more messy.

Every way you look at it, it’s a disaster. A disaster caused by Labour.  And it need never have happened. The Conservatives produced a balanced budget which kept this front line service and made economies in back office functions instead. That’s why we have pledged to Axe The Tax if elected in May, and refund all those people who have already paid.  And we’d remove the fly tipped bags from our streets.

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Spring Clean On The Roman Way Estate

This morning the Edgbaston campaign team took a short break from canvassing to help out with the spring clean on the Roman Way Estate.

Residents were out in force litter picking, dealing with fly tipped items such as supermarket trolleys, and trimming the bushes and flowers on the communal areas. We worked our way down Bullace Croft and litter picked around the brook. All in all, a good morning’s work by everyone!

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Oasis Academy Woodview Opening Ceremony

This morning Cllr James Hutchings and I went to Oasis Academy Woodview for the ceremony to officially open the school’s new building. This building is an addition to the old school building, and reincorporates the hall which was used as a Community Centre during the time when the estate was being rebuilt and numbers  at the school fell. Now the numbers are rising again.

This morning’s event had a jam packed programme of song, music and dance by pupils from all the years at the school, culminating in Steve Chalke cutting the ribbon to declare the new building open.

An excellent event! The children were a real credit to their school, putting on entertainment which was of an excellent standard.

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Launch Of The Birmingham Bears At Edgbaston

This evening Cllr Fergus Robinson and I attended the launch of the Birmingham Bears Twenty/Twenty (T20) team at the Warwickshire County Ground in Edgbaston.

This year the competition (renamed the Nat West T20 Blast) will take place mainly on Friday nights with the organisers hoping fans will make the matches a regular Friday night activity in the summer.

The finals will also be played at Edgbaston in August, so there promises to be lots of exciting cricket in Birmingham this summer – for more details, visit http://www.edgbaston.com

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Green Bag Saga Goes On

The Labour Council’s decision to charge £35 for to collect green garden waste, and £25 to collect bulky items (when previously these services were free in Birmingham) is having all sorts of knock on effects.

First of all, lets knock one lie on the head. Labour did not have to introduce these charges. Yes times are tough, yes economies have to be made. But the Conservatives produced a balanced budget at the March Council meeting which was put together under the same financial constraints as Labour are working under, and we would have kept these services free at the point of delivery.

We made our cuts elsewhere (staff absences, cuts to the Cabinet support and policy departments, outside subscriptions etc. etc.). We would not have charged for these front line services. Labour could have supported our budget. They chose not to. The Labour Coucnillors – all of them who were present, including those up for re-election this year –  CHOSE to introduce these charges.

The queues at Lifford Lane have reached 40-45 minutes at times. I raised this at Scrutiny ten days ago and it has been picked up by the Birmingham Mail and Radio WM (Adrian Goldberg Show) today. This is doing nothing for the air quality in the area, for free movement of traffic in the area, or for people’s frayed tempers (I gather the police were called on one occasion).

Another knock on effect of the Council’s charge are the piles of green bags everywhere. The Council’s “wheelie bin police” (waste minimisation staff) have been sticking yellow labels on them, telling people the Council no longer collects the old bags and to dispose of them themselves. Some people have then taken their bags off the streets. Some have not.

In Augustus Road over the weekend there were several piles of bags of garden waste with yellow stickers on. But because of the road layout, they are not necessarily outside an individual house. Each pile may relate to one of several houses, or indeed they may relate to none – they may have been fly tipped by residents from a distance away. I have had two complaints about this happening in the last week alone (in different areas, not Augustus Road).

If the owners don’t claim the bags, and the Council won’t take them away, what is to happen? Birmingham is soon going to look very untidy indeed if these piles of green bags stay there. Did the Labour members who brought in these charges think this scenario through? Did they work out what to do if residents stubbornly refused to move the green waste outside their houses? How do you prove which house it came from? There’s no name and address in a bag of garden waste. Did they make provision for the obvious increase of traffic there would be at our tips (particularly Lifford Lane as it serves a larger part of the city than the other three) once the charges were brought in?

Frankly if they have to employ a waste minimisation team, and make changes to the depots to accomodate the extra capacity generated, it might have just been easier just to keep garden waste collection free at the point of delivery.  The public would have liked it too. And isn’t the Council here to serve the public?

 

 

New Leaflet

Team Edgbaston were out delivering our new leaflet today.

Thanks to Matt Bennett (the photographer) for the picture!

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