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Lifting the lid on Birmingham’s rubbish collection opinion poll row

Lifting the lid on Birmingham’s rubbish collection opinion poll row

🕔19.Apr 2013

rubbishThe battle to capture hearts and minds in Birmingham’s wheelie bin row shows no sign of abating.

A war of surveys is gripping a debate where opposing sides are clearly settling in for the long haul.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians have bombarded city council meetings for months with announcements that they have conducted opinion polls demonstrating almost total rejection of a £29 million scheme to switch rubbish collection from plastic sacks to wheeled bins.

Claims that 80 or even 90 per cent of residents in areas like Perry Barr, Erdington and Edgbaston oppose the bins have been commonplace, although documentary evidence hasn’t been released.

Now the Labour administration has hit back with an authentic survey conducted by respected pollsters Opinion Research Services, based on the results of 3,000 questionnaires.

Unfortunately, the interim survey results don’t quite demonstrate the huge support for wheelie bins that cabinet member James McKay might have been hoping for.

A press release on Cllr McKay’s behalf makes much of residents’ belief that bins will mean cleaner streets with fewer foxes and rats. But the statement makes little comment on the fact that opinion as to whether wheelie bins are a good thing is split.

Although the questionnaire famously did not ask people whether they wanted wheelie bins, it did ask whether the bins would be good for the city. Fifty per cent said yes, 36 per cent said no and 14 per cent didn’t know.

Cllr McKay refuses to be downhearted. He said: “I’m really encouraged by these results which show that already, before they’ve even got them, the majority of Birmingham residents welcome wheelie bins.

“Residents also clearly understand the benefits, with six out of ten people feeling they will reduce vermin on the streets, and nearly six out of ten feeling they will make streets cleaner.

“There are obviously some residents who are unsure, and that is only to be expected with such a big change planned. But based on the experiences of other councils who have made this change, I am confident that residents’ acceptance of the new system will increase once they are introduced.”

Meanwhile, just over 90 per cent of properties in Brandwood and Harborne have been deemed suitable for wheelie bins following an inspection by council officials.

Only 1,000 homes in the two areas chosen to pilot the scheme were found to be unsuitable, while 16,000 passed the test and will get their bins in May and June.

Householders rejected for wheelie bins, generally on the grounds that driveways are too steep or there is no storage area, will have received a red card from the council and are to be given “alternative non-wheelie bin collections as required”.

And in a comment that will infuriate and bemuse Tory and Lib Dem councillors, Cllr McKay insisted that some of the red-carded residents were so cross about not getting a wheelie bin that they were appealing against the decision.

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