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?