Lib Dem councillors in Wokingham are confident they have the backing of the public in pushing for changes to the new waste collection service. The Liberal Democrats received an overwhelming response to their waste and recycling survey, carried out earlier this year. There were over 1000 replies, and they have helped the Lib Dems understand exactly which parts of the new scheme residents are most unhappy with. The Lib Dems plan to use the information to continue to push for changes.
Cllr Prue Bray, Leader of the Lib Dem group, said “Residents have told us about a huge variety of issues. The top three are: that the green waste is far too expensive, that the blue bags are not good enough, and that people want to be able to recycle a wider range of items. We will be focusing on getting the Conservatives to rethink at least those three aspects of the scheme.”
“We welcome the fact that the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny committee has taken up our suggestion of a review of waste collection, which will give us an opportunity to push for what residents want. The review will also look at the problems with the introduction of the scheme, which infuriated so many people.”
“The Lib Dems recognise that money is tight and that any changes made will have to be affordable and cost effective. This may limit the scope of what can be done. But we hope we will be able to work constructively together with Conservative councillors to get the changes residents want to see.”
Liberal Democrats have raised questions and motions on the Waste Scheme at the following Council / Executive meetings:
- July 2010;
- November 2010;
- September 2011;
- October 2011;
- January 2012;
- and May 2012.
– but up to now, the Council hasn’t responded to the obvious flaws in the system. The following anonymous quotes from the Waste Survey represent a cross-section of views:
- “No objection to a one off payment for a wheelie bin but will not pay an annual charge. What do I pay council tax for!!!”
- “Council tax increase by the back door”
- “This is an unnecessary stealth tax (annually making it worse still). Possibly. would have paid a one off fee for bin, but not ANNUAL charge.”
- “More items should be recycled and can be recycled. The green waste will stop being recycled because people won’t want to pay for it.”
- “Other councils do more to encourage recycling of other objects like glass. We seem to be going backwards.”
- “It is a shame you don’t recycle glass or plastic tubs, pots or trays.”
- “The bags are too thin – anything heavy makes them split and they are easy for foxes or cats to get into/tear.”
- “The blue bags are not large enough to fit inside a ‘normal’ black dustbin”
- “Bags very flimsy and don’t fit our dustbin”.
Liberal Democrat councillors are very disappointed but not in the least surprised that the Conservative Executive at Wokingham Borough Council voted unanimously on 15th May to close Fosters residential care home.
The consultation responses from residents of Fosters and their families stated overwhelmingly that they did not want Fosters to close. But as usual the Conservatives have not listened. Lib Dem Cllr Lesley Hayward (Bulmershe & Whitegates ward) explains “The Conservatives seemed to think what was most important was the lack of en-suite bathroom facilities. But for the residents and their families it is not simply about the building. What matters to them is quality of life and that’s about care and relationships. The Executive just didn’t seem to understand that. Now Foster’s residents face disruptive and upsetting moves that however well-managed will affect the care and well-being of these vulnerable people.”
The Liberal Democrat group considered Calling-In the closure of Fosters – challenging the process followed by the Executive to arrive at their decision and asking them to reconsider. However, unlike the Tories, we listened to the relatives. They did not believe the Executive would change their minds and therefore thought there was no point in prolonging the process.
Cllr Prue Bray leader of the Wokingham Liberal Democrats added “This is yet another example that shows the Conservatives just don’t understand what consultation is. Holding sham consultations and not listening to people stems from the Conservatives’ belief that they always know best. As the shambles of the waste collection shows, that is not true. Although the decision to close Fosters has been made, the Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the interests of vulnerable elderly people and their relatives, whose wishes the Conservatives have ignored in this consultation.
- The Fosters consultation ran from November 2011 to March 2012.
- The decision on Fosters was delayed from 29th March Executive meeting (in order to avoid bad news during the local elections?), and was made at an Extraordinary Meeting held on Tuesday 15th May 2012.
An overwhelming majority of Wokingham’s residents are unhappy with the new waste and recycling scheme, according to a survey carried out by the Liberal Democrat opposition on the Borough Council.
The Lib Dems have been carrying out the survey across a number of areas of the Borough. They have received nearly a thousand replies already – and they are still flooding in.
The main issues coming out of the survey so far are: the high cost of the green waste collection, and disappointment with the limited range of things that can be recycled. According to the Council’s own figures, only 8% of residents have joined the green waste scheme. This confirms the Lib Dems’ long held fears that the high charges would deter people. The survey also shows people are keen to recycle. But despite Lib Dem calls for recycling to be expanded, the Conservatives failed to take the opportunity to do it when they drew up the new contract.
Cllr Prue Bray leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors said” It’s a great pity that the Conservatives didn’t consult residents before introducing their changes to the rubbish collection. We have been arguing for many months that their scheme was flawed and now it is clear that residents think the same. We will continue to press for changes to the scheme.”