‘Sham’ consultation supports halving rubbish collections, says Tory leader

Waltham Forest Council wants to reduce black bin collections and says a recent survey shows residents’ support

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

A consultation that allegedly shows residents’ support for less frequent black bin collections has been branded a “sham” by the local Conservative leader.

Last Autumn, Waltham Forest Council consulted more than 2,700 residents about a new waste strategy, which would see black bin collections go from weekly to fortnightly.

Recycling would still be collected on a weekly basis, with the addition of new weekly food waste collections, in a bid to get residents to recycle more of their waste.

The council states 55% of respondents to last year’s consultation supported the change. However, at a full council meeting on 27th May, Conservative leader Emma Best insisted this idea is “sadly mistaken”.

At the meeting, she read out the question this statistic was drawn from, which set out the pros and cons of four options for waste collection, before asking residents to what extent they agreed that the council was “doing the right sorts of things” about recycling.

Conservative group leader Emma Best said: “If you think that’s a fair consultation to ask residents if they want to move to fortnightly bin collections, I’m afraid I think you’re sadly mistaken. 

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“I am asking the cabinet member to tell me how this sham consultation could be considered sufficient and, if he is so sure about [changing to fortnightly collections] why it was not included in the Labour manifesto last year, which was 15 pages long.”

Deputy leader Clyde Loakes, who oversees the borough’s waste collection, said fortnightly black bin collections are “increasingly commonplace” in London and credited with “significant recycling performance improvements” in other boroughs.

He suggested that “even if” Cllr Best had not understood the consultation question she had just read out, he felt “very confident” that most people responding had.

The council hopes the waste collection changes will push residents to recycle more and improve the borough’s low recycling rates. While about 80% of household waste can currently be recycled, the most recent estimates suggest that Waltham Forest residents recycle less than a third of their waste.

A decision on the changes could be approved by cabinet as early as June this year, but must first be debated by the council’s climate change scrutiny committee.

Cllr Loakes said: “We are working with Urbaser on how best to implement these changes, including putting the right resident communications in place and in a timely way, and learning from others on how they implemented their changes: what worked and what didn’t.

“With around 218,000 bins collected each week, this will be a significant change that requires careful testing and planning.”

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