Black sacks: my recent press commentary
December 6, 2013 1 Comment
I was asked to make a short comment for the Southend Echo (printed in yesterday’s edition). Here is what I wrote:
One of the duties of a local authority is to ensure the streets are kept clean. I am concerned that the ending of the black sacks distribution is making our streets dirtier. Earlier this year, during the budget discussions, I warned that the removal of these sacks could prove a retrograde step, likely to cost more than any saving made.
At the time I made this comment: “The decision to save £47,000 by no longer providing black refuse sacks is one that could easily be a false economy. Litter and fly-tipping feature large in many councillors’ casework inboxes, and this cut has the potential to make this an even bigger feature. Whilst most households will grudgingly purchase their own supply of black sacks, there will be those who choose either to dump everything in the pink sacks, to use carrier bags and the like, or to just throw their general trash wherever they can get away with it. All these options will increase the workload for street cleaners and will add more woes for the neighbours.”
Cutting black sacks saved less than one-tenth of one percent of council tax. I am now being told that some streets are being visited three times a week in order to pick up pink sacks that include general refuse (and therefore not picked up as part of the normal collection). There is a cost associated with this, a cost borne by all council tax payers. We can easily imagine that the remedial work of picking up badly filled pink sacks, etc., will cost more than the intended saving.
Of course I want recycling rates to go up – but how is it to be achieved if residents pink sacks end up being treated as general refuse? I think we should reverse this false economy, and stop annoying our residents. Clean streets must be a priority.