Last night (Wednesday 23rd November), Labour and the Havering Resident's Association voted against my motion to protect weekly bin collections.
They had proposed fortnightly collections in their recent budget consultation, with a plan to also introduce wheelie bins. It was put across as a much-needed budget saving. It became clear that this was not the case and that this was not their intention.
At the vote, I presented that the saving will not be seen until 12 years later. The Council will have to spend over £2m on wheelie bins in year 1.
Their reply did not mention cost. Instead, they focused on how we must reduce waste to protect the environment.
Labour, and the Resident's Association, ignored our concerns and voted against the motion.
The motion, and my speech, are below.
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This Council supports weekly bin collection and agrees that Cabinet should commit to retaining a weekly bin collection service, with plans for containerisation to be put to the public in a fully costed consultation.
Over the last 10 years, central government has gradually reduced the funding it provides to Havering. This is something that previous administrations have had to work with and it’s something that this coalition is now having to do.
The task ahead is huge.
Inflation has added an estimated £10m to costs, in this year alone and we urgently need the government to complete it’s long overdue Fair Funding Review.
Cuts to services will have to be made.
On these statements, Mr Mayor, this whole chamber I am sure agrees.
With that in mind, it is vital that the coalition makes the right cuts in the right places.
I’ll never forget the sight and smell, Mr Mayor.
I was heading out of the door to work when raw human sewage flooded out of my bathroom cabinets and across the floor.
It took me over an hour to clean that up, another hour to repair the broken sewage pipe, and of course a cost to me doing so. I’m one of the lucky ones who could do it myself.
But that wasn’t the end of it. 3 times, over the next 3 days, the same thing happened.
The cause became clear as I stepped out of the shower on the third day, as I was greeted by a large rat sat in the middle of my bathroom. It dived into the cabinets and straight into the waste pipe.
It didn’t take long for pest control to find the problem. Rats had nested in the loft of the flats. They had a ready food supply in the communal bins and were breeding fast. These were bins that are emptied every single week.
We don’t have space for a second bin in our communal bin store and we only get one, small, recycling bin between all the flats. Despite the heroic efforts of our bin collectors, they just can’t keep on top of it.
This scenario is played out in flats and homes across my ward. In Drummond Road, just this year, a communal bin store caught fire. Fuelled by uncollected waste.
It goes to show why, Mr Mayor, any loss of weekly bin collections must be very carefully considered.
Now, I fully expect that what I’m about to witness is members of the coalition standing up one-by-one to tell us that we need to lobby central government, that it’s the fault of reduced funding and, likely, some will simply stand up and make national party-political points.
The coalition is going to tell us that they are running a consultation and that they’ll listen to that. But it’s not good enough Mr Mayor. the consultation gives a vague set of numbers in what is clearly an un-costed fantasy.
They keep telling us to work with them. Well, I am, by marking their homework.
According to the consultation, the coalition’s proposals are to introduce wheelie bins.
But note, there is no costing for these bins. So, I asked around.
I’ve been informed, by the Officer, that they are working on an assumption of £20 per bin. Plus, delivery, plus stickers, plus comms, plus new bin lifts.
With over one hundred thousand homes in Havering, that’s over £2m pounds committed in one paragraph. £2m spent in year 1.
With the highlighted savings being £650k over 5 years.
Quick maths. That’s £162,500 per year.
After spending £2m on wheelie bins, it’ll take 12 years before they get the money back in savings. Most of us won’t even be councillors by the time savings are seen.
These are not the actions of an administration that needs to urgently find savings.
And if they can suddenly find £2m for wheelie bins, perhaps they could consider finding £100k to fund Citizens Advice!
It gets even murkier. I have, again in writing, confirmation that the saving is based on the amount of waste reduced per year.
So, Havering is going to magically produce less waste just because it’s only collected every two weeks?
The reality is that our refuse workers will have the collect the same amount of waste but in just half the time.
This administration is misleading the public. They are claiming to have highlighted a saving.
The reality is that our neighbourhoods will get messier, the residents will suffer, and our bank balance will hardly be better for it.
I urge this council to vote in favour of retaining weekly bin collections