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A Tale Of Two Questionnaires

A Tale Of Two Questionnaires

🕔15.Jan 2013
Curated from Deirdre Alden, written by Deirdre Alden

As I blogged at the weekend, Edgbaston Ward Conservatives are currently delivering a wheelie bin survey to houses in the ward (flats have alternative rubbish collection systems). Our questionnaire asks questions such as “Do you agree with the City Council’s plan to introduce wheelie bins for Edgbaston?” “Will you be able to store 3 wheelie bins safely?” and “Do you agree that capping how much waste is collected could lead to increased fly tipping?”

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Harborne, where I live, Labour are also delivering a wheelie bin leaflet. Its content will be of interest to the whole city since one of the people it comes from is the Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe & Smart City – Harborne Cllr James McKay – the man who is giving Birmingham wheelie bins (because it comes under his portfolio).

The leaflet (which is entitled Wheelie Bin Information) also comes from Harborne’s other Labour Councillor, and it also has the name of the Labour MP on the top. Quite what a city council decision to introduce wheelie bins has to do with the Labour MP I don’t know, but hey – if she wants to align herself to what is so obviously a hugely unpopular local Labour policy, why should I complain? (If anyone doubts it is unpopular, they should check out the letters pages of the local press.)

As the wheelie bin policy is Cllr McKay’s policy – you might think he would make a spirited defence of it. The leaflet however begins more like an apology. The man who put in a bid to the Government asking them to fund wheelie bins in Birmingham, uses his Labour leaflet to apparently criticise the Government for  (wait for it) allocating the Council the money to introduce wheelie bins in Birmingham!

He writes (in a letter signed by himself and his ward colleague) ”While the Tory-Lib Dem Government is putting at risk vital services through these unfair cuts, they have found the money for wheelie bins; £30 million for Birmingham. If the option was open to us, we might well have chosen to spend the £30 million on something else. But that option is not there for us.”

What a load of rubbish! (Excuse the pun.)

The Government made money available to Councils for enhanced rubbish collection services and invited Councils to bid in for it. The stipulation they made was that the bid had to include weekly collections. They did NOT say that it had to include wheelie bins.

Despite Cllr McKay writing “If the option was open to us, we might well have chosen to spend the £30 million on something else” it was Birmingham’s Labour Council who decided wheelie bins was what they wanted, and who put in the bid for money to introduce them. It is Harborne’s Labour Councillor James McKay who is the Cabinet Member for the portfolio which covers waste collection and whose name presumably went on that bid – but who now doesn’t seem to want to take responsibility for what he did, and who seems to be trying to blame the Coalition Government for introducing wheelie bins in Birmingham!

Let us be clear. If the Conservatives and Lib Dems had remained in control of Birmingham last May, we would have put in a bid for the money, we were intending to do so – BUT it would have been to introduce a food waste recycling system in Birmingham, NOT for wheelie bins. Some other Councils did just that and they were awarded the money to do it. So there WAS another alternative to wheelie bins – Birmingham’s Labour Councillors just chose not to take it. THEY chose wheelie bins. I repeat, THEY chose wheelie bins.

A food waste recycling system would have taken away the biggest problem with black bags – namely that they get ripped open by vermin who can smell the food waste inside them. If there is no food in the black bag, there is no reason for vermin to be interested in them. A food waste recycling system would also have instantly upped our recycling rates – because Birmingham does not currently recycle food waste (and it won’t be recycyling it under Labour’s wheelie bin system either – so there’ll be no progress there.)

I repeat – a bid did NOT have to include wheelie bins in order to be successful. Introducing wheelie bins in Birmingham was a Labour idea – the same idea incidentally which they had way back in 2004, when they were on the verge of doing it, but lost control of the council.  And I still believe it is one of the reasons WHY they lost control of the Council that year.

It’s a pity that they aren’t man enough to admit it is their idea and to try and sell it the electorate, rather than weakly trying to shift the blame for their hugely unpopular policy onto someone else.



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