The RCT Cabinet this week gave the go ahead for changes to waste collection in the County Borough. The plan is to collect black bag waste one a fortnight instead of weekly as at present. This will no doubt spark a great deal of debate amongst residents not to mention in the Council Chamber.
There are two reasons why this move has been made in the majority of other Councils. The first and the reason that is apparently driving this change is to save money. The other is to try and increase recycling rates. The hope is that people will recycle more in order to keep their black bag waste to an absolute minimum. With so many materials being collected for recycling, including food waste, there is no reason why people should not recycle more. The system works quite well in other places.
There are a couple of glitches in the RCT system though – one of the most annoying because it is one that seems so simple to solve is the inability to keep residents supplied with plastic recycling bags. They run out on a regular basis, and despite the Council having various means of ordering them – online, by phone, with stickers on the bags, red lines that denote you have come to the end of a roll of bags – many residents are complaining that they do not get any delivered. As the Council flatly refuse to take away recycling in anything other than their bags then no doubt there is a fair amount of recyclable material going to waste.
Of course there also needs to be a change in the mindset of people in order to drive up recycling rates. Some will not recycle no matter how easy it is made for them, and there will also be those who continue to dump rubbish wherever they feel like. That will not alter no matter how often refuse is collected – although it could be argued that it may increase if people have to store black bags for two weeks. (There are also differences across the County in how refuse is collected. Taff Ely has wheelie bins, whereas Rhondda has black bags.)
The main reason why people will feel aggrieved about this is that they were promised it would not happen – and make no mistake, from a political point of view we will be reminding everyone of just that. The Labour party went into the 2012 Council elections with an unequivocal promise that they would keep weekly collections, they did not say they would try or that they would consider it – they said they would do it.
Now before anyone mentions tuition fees, yes I know. It could be argued that the position is the same. However, we were new into Government, and thanks to Labour’s lack of openness the true state of the nation’s finances were not revealed until the coalition took power. Who could forget ex Labour Treasury Secretary Liam Byrne’s note to his successor “there's no money left".
Labour in RCT on the other hand had been on power since 2004 and knew exactly the state of the finances here. They kept going on about cuts and hard times and pressure on public finances – so why make the promises
Then again they promised to keep the paddling pool knowing they had no intention of doing so. Some could see that as manipulation - or to put it more simply, a pack of lies.