To receive a report from the Director of Law and Governance detailing a petition received seeking to stop the bin collection changes. (Report No. 94)
Members are asked to note that the Petition has been submitted under the Council’s Petition scheme and, in accordance with the scheme, has been referred for debate at Council as it contains more than the requires 3124 signatures.
Under the terms of the Petition Scheme the petition organiser will be given 5 minutes to present the petition at the Council meeting. Council will then have the opportunity to discuss the petition for a maximum period of 15 minutes.
The Council will then need to decide how to respond to the petition. In doing this, Council may decide to take the action requested, not take the action (for reasons given during the debate) or to commission further investigation.
Where the issue is one on which the Council Executive are required to make the final decision, the Council will decide whether to make recommendations to inform that decision.
The Lead Petitioner Seraphim Leonides spoke for 5 minutes in support of the petition, Stop the Bin Collection Changes. He raised the following points:
· He thanked the members for the opportunity to address the chamber.
· He asked for the changes to be reversed or at least modified.
· The petition had followed on from the consultation which had taken place last year on the changes to the current arrangements for domestic recycling and garden waste.
· The options put forward were unacceptable to the majority of those who had responded to the consultation. In particular, the reduction from weekly to bi-weekly collections of general waste, retaining the smaller black bins and the imposition of the charge for collecting garden waste which residents regarded as a stealth tax.
· Many residents had welcomed the introduction of wheelie bins a few years ago, but most families in the opinion of the petitioners filled up the smaller black general waste bins every week. Making these collections bi-weekly would in the petitioners’ view, increase rubbish on the street encouraging foxes, rats and other wildlife.
· Charging for the green waste bins would also encourage people to burn rubbish or drive to Barrowell Green which would have a negative impact on the environment.
· There was recognition that the Council had to make savings, but also a feeling that there should be room for compromise.
· These proposals would they felt, bring down standards of cleanliness across the green and leafy borough.
· There was uncertainty around any benefits in improving the clean, healthy and hygienic environment the changes may bring about.
· The request that the Council review the proposed changes, open a genuine dialogue with residents and look again at increasing the size of the black bin or at retaining the weekly general black bin waste collections and reducing or removing the new green waste charge.
· In conclusion he appreciated the opportunity to address the chamber and hoped that the members would consider his suggestions and negotiate an acceptable conclusion for the community.
In response, Councillor Dogan, Cabinet member for Environment and Sustainability made the following points:
· He thanked the residents for coming along to the meeting and understood that changes could be unsettling.
· The decision to make the changes had not been taken lightly, but the Council had to make savings. Government had decreased Enfield’s grant by £178m since 2010.
· The cost of waste disposal was increasing and these changes would save approximately £2m per year.
· The changes would also enable an extra £500,000 to be put into street cleansing and to improve recycling rates, which would be good for the environment. Increasing recycling would create extra space in the black bins.
· Across the country 78% of councils have already moved to fortnightly collections, 4% to 3-4 weekly collections and 56% of councils charge for garden waste.
· Food waste would be collected weekly from November 2019.
· Four new permanent members of staff would be appointed. Leaflets were being circulated to inform people what they can and can’t put in each bin.
· Already 5,500 people have signed up to the garden waste scheme.
Councillor Laban, Leader of the Opposition, said that:
· She supported the petitioners and that local residents in surveys always prioritised the street scene and waste services, but their views were ignored.
· Three out of the eight options in the original consultation were never going to be implemented and should not have been offered.
· The majority of the respondees had wanted no change. The option that was being bought in was the least supported.
· The Council had known that the financial support from the Government was ending and should have planned accordingly. In the Opposition shadow budget they had been able to find the funds for this service.
· The administration should admit that they had got it wrong and keep the weekly collections.
Councillor Caliskan, Leader of the Council, praised the Mayor, Councillor Kate Anolue’s, who had recently been designated as one of the BBC’s Greater Londoners, after her 40 years of service to the NHS and her support for young black people.
Other points highlighted during the debate by the majority group:
· The Government had recently withdrawn a grant of £2.5m which had supported the weekly collections. The Council had also had to find an additional £1.5m. To make this up, the Council would have to take it from other services such as adult social care, streetlighting, special educational needs.
· Acknowledgement that it was important to keep the streets clean, but disagreement that these proposals would increase the amount of rubbish on the street.
· Fly-tipping was an issue despite current weekly collections which would be addressed.
· It was essential to protect the services for the most vulnerable.
· Similar changes had been made a few years ago in Haringey. Since then recycling had gone up and the streets had not been overrun with litter.
· The Opposition were the party of austerity and deprivation. They should support the Labour party in petitioning the government for more money for public services.
· Over half the borough did not have gardens and have suffered from the huge government cuts to services that they depended on. It was fair that those people who had gardens should make a contribution to have their waste collected when funding was tight.
· Labour would always prioritise the needs of the vulnerable.
Other points highlighted during the debate from the Opposition:
· Gratitude to the persistence of the petitioners.
· That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered the report and sent it back to the Cabinet Member for reconsideration.
· The consultation had received 5,602 responses of these 66% wanted to keep the current system.
· The view that an extra £500,000 would not make a significant difference to the street cleanliness.
· The Council should listen to the views of their residents.
· Council tax had increased and the garden waste fee was a stealth tax. The Council should stop wasting money.
· The view that the consultation was invalid as it had breached government consultations and that if it had been challenged, they would have lost the challenge.
· The issue of fly-tipping could be resolved if the Council removed the charges for collecting household items introduced by the Labour administration.
During the debate Councillor Ergin Erbil proposed a motion that the time allowed for debate be increased by 15 minutes. This was seconded by Councillor Glynis Vince and agreed without a vote.
Later in the debate, Councillor Ergin Erbil proposed and Councillor Glynis Vince seconded a motion that the time allowed for debate be increased by a further 10 minutes. This was agreed without a vote.
At the end of the debate Councillor Dogan stated that the Council would not take the action requested.