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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The astonishing cost of Neath Port Talbot's wheelie bin replacement programme

I know that opposition politicians are always putting in FOI requests and demanding explanations for trifling amounts of expenditure but even I was taken aback by this latest example from Labour-led Neath Port Talbot Council.

They have adopted a plan to swap all the household wheelie bins in their area for smaller ones in the hope of reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. The Council report recommending the switch reveals that the total cost will be £730,000. It suggests that this will encourage local residents to recycle and compost more.

This scheme is barmy, a complete waste of £730,000 of the public’s money, and comes at a time when the council is planning to cut a host of other important services which will impact upon local communities.

If the council go through with this, over 45,000 households will lose their large 240 litre bin, and see it replaced with one which is over 40% smaller at 140 litres. All that will happen is more fly-tipping, and litter which the council will have to spend money clearing up.

Nobody is arguing about the need to put up recycling, but Neath Port Talbot’s approach is all compulsion, and no carrot. I am sure that they could spend this money in a different way to achieve their objective.

What is worse is that Labour are spending this £730,000 on replacing wheelie-bins at a time when they are planning deep cuts that will affect the lives of local people and levying a council tax that is higher than that in neighbouring Welsh authorities, the second highest in Wales in fact.

For instance, this amount of money could mean no cuts for early years development, and subsidised bus routes; no cuts for community meals, and no need to slap charges on those residents using the council’s day services. It could also mean no cut in the amount spent on gully cleaning and land drainage which given the amount of rain we have had would seem to make good sense.

From the Council that had a waste incinerator built that was rarely used and which has now been mothballed this is another example of an idea that should never have left the drawing board.
It's a pity that there aren't any Lib Dem councillors in Neath Port Talbot to echo your views. Why is that I wonder?
Perhaps because there was a backlash against the incumbent parties in 2012? We are working to correct that. However, that does not excuse the sheer madness of this proposal and the lack of an effective opposition on NPTCBC
Some councils save by not having wheelie bins at all for standard waste.

Milton Keynes for example has green wheelie bins for food waste and compostable garden waste. This is collected weekly by specialised collection lorries. On the same day residents put out all other waste in plastic sacks - pink for recyclable paper plastics foil etc and black for all other waste. Glass goes into open plastic crates. These three refuse streams are collected weekly at the same time, the collection lorries having three compartments.

This weekly collection is possible because collecting sacks is much faster than collecting from bins. An advance team comes down the road consolidating the sacks into larger heaps. The lorry passes along with the sacks being slung into the relevant compartments.

Wheelie bins have to be taken to the lorry two by two then taken back...

This is a terrible idea. I have one of the smaller bins in NPT CBC - it takes 2 full black bags. After which I just put any further sacks next to the bin. It doesn't actually make a difference to the amount of recycling I do or how much general waste I generate.
According to the cabinet report they wlll only take the bin in future and leave any bags left at the side behind
Hi Peter, so how is that fair. Does a family of 4 have the same size bin as a family of 2?
That is my point. Neath Port Talbot Council have not thought this through
As a resident of Neath Port Talbot this is another terrible idea by the corporate management team. Peter - I agree with you 100% and I hope you use your influence to help reverese this idea. It is a complete waste of money and the notion of putting out smaller bins will only lead to more flytipping which will result in even higher costs for the authority. As an aside I would also be interested to learn that since switching to a fortnightly collection how much money has the authority actually saved. Have they reduced the number of vehicles it has in its fleet or staff members? I have been informed that the council will also have to purchase a new fleet of lorries to pick up the waste because they new style bins are not compatible with their existing fleet. The council should not focus on league tables and statistics which is driven by those in Cardiff Bay, but look at the needs of its council taxpayers that it serves. A resident with a family of 4 will have different waste requirements to a one person household.
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