The number of assisted collections (where the crew come on to the front of a person’s property to move the bags/bin of a person who cannot manage to do it themselves) in Brandwood Ward has risen from 58 in before the introduction of wheelie bins to 497 afterwards. In Harborne it has risen from 40 before wheelie bins to 339 afterwards.
Clearly every one of these assisted collections has a cost to the Council because it takes time. The more time it takes a crew to collect the rubbish from one road, the fewer roads they can do in a day – so costs go up as you end up with shorter rounds which requires more crews.
It is for this reason that I am told Council staff will be contacting everyone who requested an assisted collection to ask if they really need it after all.
When I raised this at Full Council yesterday, the Leader of the Council tried to blame Harborne Conservatives for the rise in the number of assisted collection (he said they’d been encouraging people to ask for one). Since there are actually far more in Brandwood than Harborne, this argument hardly holds water.
Besides which, I attended a residents’ meeting in Edgbaston Ward where the Labour Cabinet Member told the room that if people couldn’t manage to move the wheelie bins, they could request an assisted collection. If he said this in Edgbaston, it seems unlikely that he didn’t also tell people in his own ward.
I suspect politicians of all parties have reassured residents who are worried about their ability to move their wheelie bins that assisted collections are available. And probably the real reason for the increase is that a wheelie bin is more difficult to move than a black sack if you have steps or a steep slope on your property (not everyone with steps or slopes has been excluded by any means) and are not very mobile.
Meanwhile another written question got the – in my opinion – amazing response that in Brandwood and Harborne a total of 19 households have decided to opt out of the rubbish collection system altogether rather than accept wheelie bins. This means they cannot put anything out for collection, and must take all their rubbish and recycling to the Council’s tip themselves.
It never occurred to me that anyone would do this – until I was told by a resident in Harborne that her neighbours had signed away their rights to a rubbish collection rather than accept the bins. It seems 18 other families (9 in Brandwood and 9 more in Harborne) have taken the same decision.