The live streaming of Birmingham Council committee meetings allows anyone (including other Councillors) to watch things they would otherwise not get to see. Having had a lively discussion on the wheelie bin consultation at the Edgbaston District Committee on Monday, I thought therefore I would see what happened during the same presentation at the Ladywood District Committee a few days before.
I had expected a strong defence of the wheelie bin policy by the Leader of the Council, Sir Albert Bore, as he is a member of the Ladywood District. In the event, his apologies for non-attendance were given – so no word from him.
Cllr Spence (Labour) kicked off the Councillors’ questions/comments with the observation that she was getting back mixed messages on the subject with some people in favour and some not. After concerns from two Aston Councillors that people from their ward may not be able to engage with an on-line consultation, and a comment from another Councillor which was largely unheard as the microphone presumably had not been switched on, we got a spirited defence of the wheelie bin policy from Labour’s Cllr Hartley.
As the Labour spokesman on Street Services for many years one wonders why she wasn’t made the Cabinet Member when Labour finally took control. Anyway, Cllr Hartley took exception to people in the room from her own political party who appeared to be less than 100% enthusiastic about wheelie bins.
This led Cllr Spence to come back (quite rightly in my opinion) with the comment that she didn’t say she was against the bins, but Councillors are elected to represent their constituents and she was relating what constituents had told her.
Seeing Cllr Hartley’s rage at the relatively tame comments made in her own District Committee, one wonders what she would have said if she’d heard Labour’s Cllr Clancy at the Edgbaston District Committee! He stated “I don’t like wheelie bins,” “I think they’re a waste of money,” and “I think they’re a rubbish idea.” But then went on to say, again very spiritedly, that basically it was all right to have this opinion because he characterises them as “Tory wheelie bins”.
Wrong! Just for clarification (once again) the Government did NOT hand out money to Councils specifically for wheelie bins, the Government had a pot of money specifically to guarantee weekly rubbish collections, and it was up to the individual Councils to bid in for whatever scheme they wanted in order to keep, or re-introduce, weekly collections. There was no obligation on any Council to bid in for the money if they didn’t want it. Some Councils bid but did NOT put in for wheelie bins – and they were awarded money. If the Conservatives had still been running Birmingham we would have put in for a food waste reycling system to add to our other collections, and I hope we would have been successful. But Labour took control and Labour chose to change Birmingham’s bid to make it for wheelie bins.
So they are Labour’s wheelie bins, introduced by a Labour Council. But when Labour Councillors try to convince people that actually it’s all the Tories’ fault, you begin to think that some of them at least must be beginning to realise what a hugely unpopular policy it is that they are imposing on Birmingham. And perhaps some are also starting to worry about the possible electoral consequences.