At the cabinet meeting on 13th June the Labour run administration announced a U-turn on green bin charges. This was a victory for common-sense and came after intense pressure from residents and the Conservative party.
Conservatives had previously "called in" Labour's decision to implement the new waste strategy, stating it was unsound. The Lib Dems belatedly supported our call in. Initially the Lib Dems, it appears, did not wish to openly oppose their pseudo coalition partners, the Labour administration, but when opposition from residents and especially their own voters became clear, they decided to join us.
On the 3 May, a special council meeting was held to debate the recommendations arising from the Conservative "call in". Many Conservative Councillors spoke passionately about their opposition to the proposals. Bizarrely Labour had little to say; only one member of Labour's Cabinet spoke. The Lib Dems decided to join with Conservatives to out vote Labour and send the decision back for re-appraisal by Cabinet.
If the Labour party had ignored the protests of other parties, stuck to its guns and refused to drop the charges the Conservative Group Leader had promised a vote of no confidence in the council’s Labour administration.
Let us be in no doubt, this U-turn would never have happened without pressure from the Conservatives and support from residents.
Early on, the Conservative party had pointed out a number of waste strategy issues that the Labour Cabinet should consider, namely:
- the charge to residents of an additional £33 for the green bin service;
- the level of stated savings of £330,000 per annum being achieved on a budget of £25m, as the new arrangements could potentially cost the Council more money whilst also having an impact on recycling levels and increased residual waste;
- the legality of the Waste Strategy;
- how bins which had been paid for were to be identified;
- how the charging was to be applied fairly when there was currently a range of sizes of green bins being used by residents;
- the costs associated with replacement food caddies and the potential large increase in residual waste disposal costs as currently residual waste processing costings were £102 a tonne, while green waste was processed at £46 a tonne;
- the preferred route of online billing option for residents and the impact on the elderly and residents who did not have access or could not use online billing;
- the impact on the Serco collection contract if there was a significant increase in residual waste to be collected; and
- the impact of the changes as a result of the Strategy on the new waste factory.
Clearly there is something wrong with an administration that stubbornly refuses to listen to objections clearly laid out before them. A competent administration would have read the signs and resolved these issues much sooner.
The Conservative Party stand ready to bring competence back to Milton Keynes.