No Money For Black Bags Says Council

PUBLISHED: 11:06 31 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:49 04 May 2010

RUBBISH collection was put under the spotlight on Friday - as the recession-hit district council said it did not have £35,000 for black plastic waste bags. International waste company Veolia, who are paid £2.2million to collect rubbish and recycling, hav

RUBBISH collection was put under the spotlight on Friday - as the recession-hit district council said it did not have £35,000 for black plastic waste bags.

International waste company Veolia, who are paid £2.2million to collect rubbish and recycling, have asked the council for an extra £35,000 to introduce bulk delivery of black sacks in East Cambridgeshire - money the council has now decided it cannot afford.

At a "waste review" meeting, head of human resources, Andrew Killington said: "There is a reluctance at the moment to give Veolia more money when the service is as bad as it is, and there are issues to resolve before we can be confident enough to invest more money in that service. It is not a reluctance to get that part of the job done."

Lib Dem councillor Ian Allen, whose party has campaigned for improvements to recycling, added: "Resources are being targeted towards Masterplans and Leisure Facility working parties and not towards a core service which every council has a duty to provide."

Veolia had previously claimed it was receiving two to three complaints a week, but since the council installed a complaints hotline in January - three months later than planned - the number of complaints hit 2,600 in less than three months.

Cllr Christine Bryant, who represents Bottisham, commented: "It is more than money we are talking about. It is the reputation of this council. If Veolia is sending out agency staff they are working to provide a service on behalf of the council - it is not about the bottom line as far as money is concerned, it's about the council's reputation."

But Conservative councillor James Palmer, who said he had had only one complaint from Soham residents in the two years since he was elected, opted to save rather than spend. "It is wise at this moment in time to hold fire on spending the money."

But the council has spent money on a new post to encourage more residents to recycle. A part-time Community Recycler post has been set up for May and will involve someone going from house to house informing residents about their waste disposal duties.

It would cost the council an extra £600,000 to buy one wheelie bin per household - and the county council currently offered ECDC £400,000 this year to defray the cost of rubbish and recycling collection.

Latest figures show East Cambs residents recycle 39 per cent of waste, just above the national average of 34 per cent. Other councils in Cambridgeshire, all of whom have wheelie bins, recycle upwards of 45 per cent.

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