Changing bin collections in Wrexham from fortnightly to once a month is on the table a lead councillor told a meeting today – however no decisions have been made as of yet amid warnings a recent public consultation perhaps was not clear enough.
Members of the Homes and Environment Scrutiny Committee were today scrutinising 24 items of proposed £13 million savings featured in the council’s ‘Difficult Decisions’ document / consultation.
Bin collections was the first item on the agenda, with one proposal put forward to generate income being introducing a £30 annual fee for the collection of more than one green bin along with an overall review of the service.
Cllr David A Bithell, Lead Member for Environment and Transport began presenting an overview over the proposal on on bins, adding context of Welsh Government targets and that areas of the UK are looking at the frequency of collections, noting that some nearby authorities had moved to a collection every three or four weeks.
“Instead of having two weekly residual collections, some have moved to three or even four weekly collections. The Welsh Government blueprint clearly sets out objectives and that we are working to. It is work in progress. There are not figures attributed to this at this stage.”
Cllr Graham Rogers loudly and firmly advised lead members that if they where contemplating three or four weekly collections he could not support it, adding: “Rest assured if this council even contemplates going to three or four week collections, you will not get my support.
“Wrexham leaves a lot to be desired in the state it currently is. I dread to think how it would be if we moved from two weeks to three to four. It is a disgrace as it now.”
Council Leader Mark Pritchard stepped in taking exception to the remarks, saying he would carry on the conversation outside the room on the point, but on the topic in the room adding: “There has been no political decision made.
“There is a workshop in January on this. What I will remind you is it is Lesley Griffiths AM pushing this so the recycle target is improved in Wales, we are being forced down this route. I am not saying we will be going down it, but we are being forced that way.”
With the recent ‘Difficult Decisions’ consultation being used as a sounding board for public opinion Cllr Carrie Harper, who submitted the initial request to scrutinise the budget, warned lead members ‘to be careful’ to rely on it to give a depth of support for such changes to bin collections.
Cllr Harper said: “I did read the public consultation on this and have concerns if we use that as justification to move to three or four weeks. The consultation just talks about reviewing frequency. We need to be very careful on that as the public consultation is not clear.”
Cllr Bithell firmly disagreed, saying it was ‘clearly out there in the public consultation’ and ‘quite clearly covered’, reading out in full the below text that was part of the consultation:
Cllr Harper responded noting: “You are not saying three or four weekly bin collections”, observing “You would have had well over your 3000 responses if people had picked that up, I have got to be honest but there you go!”.
Discussion over bin collections. Clr Harper warns public consultation did not ask about moving to 3-4 weekly collections, Clr Bithell strongly states it did. Clr Pritchard blames AM / Welsh Gov Minister Lesley Griffiths for ‘forcing’ the ‘direction’ on collections.
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) December 4, 2017
There will be an all councillor workshop on the 16th of January where a presentation will be given showing the progress from 2003 to date , and future steps for recycling and waste management and ‘all the information’ will be given.
Another budget scrutiny, this time by members of the Employment, Businesses and Investment committee, will take place later this month.