spotted the man draped in Bexley council regalia from the kitchen window and
went straight to the front door and took the ‘Sorry we missed you card’ from his
hand outstretched towards the letter box.
He may not have intended to immediately walk away because he lost no time in launching his spiel. I told him that I knew all about it and had already signed up. In return he said that almost no one was aware of the plan to charge for collecting garden waste and asked how it was I knew.
I said I was in the council chamber when it first crept into the budget documentation last October to which the man at the door said “I’ve not heard that one before”.
The charge was not formally approved by council until March this year.
With publicity for and awareness of the bin tax at such a low level, cabinet member Peter Craske has found it necessary to write to the News Shopper to combat the widespread disenchantment.
With the News Shopper’s on-line version being unavailable this week I doubt many people will have read it and with the paper version only going through three letter boxes in my street one must wonder why the council relies on it for distributing Legal Notices and the like.
Councillor Craske has a well deserved reputation for blurting out comments which are untrue but not everything he has said since being forgiven for the obscene blogging activities that occurred at his address has been a lie.
The assertions he makes in his letter are…
• The new charge for garden waste collection service costs only half the price of a tank of petrol.
This is a very silly analogy. In the 58 times I have filled my tank since buying the car I have never managed to squeeze in more than 30 litres.
• It is being introduced because the council’s budget has been reduced by 50% since 2010.
True although it was Bexley council’s decision to increase all fees and charges by substantial amounts instead of progressively easing up council tax. There was a choice but there was an electorate to be deceived. Craske has been responsible for some of the biggest price increases; some parking charges went up by a factor of three and more are proposed. (Disabled bays.)
• In order to protect essential services like social care for adults in need and protecting vulnerable children, things we have previously provided free at the point of use can no longer be provided in the same way.
Expenditure on Adults’ Services are to be cut by another 28% and Children’s Services were severely cut following the 2010 election.
• Garden waste is not a statutory requirement and if we did not do this the collections themselves would have to end.
Garden waste collection is not a statutory requirement. The only real alternative would have been more sensible monetary policies in earlier years. e.g. The easing up of council tax instead of a freeze.
• The new system is being introduced by councils of all political colours all over the country who face the same financial challenges.
• We have ensured our price is one of the lowest in the country.
True. Watch it rise.
• The proposals were subject to a five month consultation period.
True and 77% of respondents voted against the bin tax.
• Our overall budget strategy has been endorsed at the ballot box.
The local elections took place before the bin tax was proposed. The clue is in the name of the strategy. Waste Strategy 2015-2020.
• The changes have also been reported by the News Shopper on several occasions.
This may or may not be true but the newspaper’s haphazard distribution policy makes the claim irrelevant. As the man at my door said, almost nobody knew.
It is perhaps worth repeating that as well as charging for the service, separated food and garden waste is a more valuable commodity than mixed and Bexley council will make £444,000 from that change.