Recycling rates fall to new low

From The Argus

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The city’s dismal recycling rates continue to drop to new lows despite the Labour administration’s pledge to get basic services “back on track”.

Recycling rates in Brighton and Hove, already among the worst in the country, have dropped again to 24.68 per cent leaving the city trailing behind comparable authorities.

The continuing fall in 2015/16 from 25.8 per cent comes despite the introduction of new schemes including recycling wheelie bins, garden waste collections and expanded communal recycling.

Opposition councillors said the administration was performing like “a failed business” and urged the council to show more innovation.

Unions blamed falling service on staff cuts which has led to managers going out on rounds.

Labour councillors said their new schemes had been “really promising” in helping to increase the amount families were recycling.

Latest figures show the proportion of waste reused, recycled or composted continuing to decline with the authority performing worse than Cheltenham, Bournemouth and Bristol.

The city is ranked bottom against ‘statistical neighbours’ – similar places – lagging behind Blackpool Borough Council’s recycling rate of 40 per cent.

The council is missing its current target of 28 per cent, revised down from 2012’s target of 40 per cent, and also failing to hit its target of missed recycling collections by more than double.

Council officers have called for “a significant change in policy” to address the issue, suggesting food waste collection and fortnightly refuse collections to boost rates.

Conservative environment spokesman Tony Janio said his group would not support fortnightly waste collections as it unfairly penalised residents while Labour agree it would not be workable or cost effective.

He added: “We raised this very issue at a recent committee which highlighted the many areas where the council simply is not meeting the mark by which we would want to serve our residents.

“If this wasn’t in the public sector, Labour would be running a failed business – as it happens they are just a failed party.”

GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “One of the fundamental problems going on in that service is the lack of staff and resources, current staffing levels are appalling.

“Currently we have managers going out, driving and loading bins on to the vehicles, it hasn’t been that bad for years.

“They need to make sure the right level of staffing and vehicles are available so that our members can go out and do the work.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, environment committee chairwoman, said: “We have introduced a number of initiatives that are helping to improve our recycling rates, the initial signs are really promising.

“It is a challenge to keep basic services going during budget reductions, but we are also introducing ways to generate income.

“Comparing Brighton and Hove with neighbours is not an ideal way of assessing our performance because it is not comparing like with like.”, some areas are more rural and collect high amounts of green waste.”

ANGER OVER COMMUNAL BIN PLAN FOR HISTORIC SQUARES

PLANS to introduce large recycling bins in historic seafront squares are facing angry opposition.

Brighton and Hove City Council has launched a consultation but the move to hold the process over the summer has been criticised with ward councillors claiming the administration was “shamelessly burying bad news” and not offering residents enough choice.

Palmeira, Brunswick and Sussex squares and surrounding streets could all receive new roadside communal bins for recycling under the proposals.

Resident Mike Kingston said: “The idea was brought up again a few years ago when representative of the council gave specific and unequivocal assurances in public meetings that any future consultations would include maintaining the present system of collection from bin stores.

“The consultation now received contains no such alternative.”

This option is being left out due to health and safety.

The authority has agreed to extend the consultation through to September 18.

The scheme, which was first launched in parts of the city five years ago, could also be expanded into Viaduct Road and Beaconsfield Road and Westbourne Street.

Fiona Bower, chairwoman of the Friends of Brunswick Square and Terrace, said: “The actual process has been a case study in how not to run a consultation: they have failed in their duty to run a fair consultation.”

But Green councillors have claimed that the Labour-run council is seeking to minimise opposition by conducting the consultation when many residents are likely to be away.

They also warned that extending the deadline will require further letters being sent to residents at more cost to the taxpayer.

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, ward councillor for Brunswick and Adelaide, said: “This is an outrageously underhand way for the council to behave, which shows a complete disregard for the views of residents in the area. Once again, we see Labour putting the con in consultation, using every trick in the book to ignore and dismiss public opinion.”

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