It’s all change for dust bins in Bexley this year but not as soon as the Council said it would be.
The Places Overview and Scrutiny Committee met last week to discuss various issues and the following is a summary of what was said. Mr. Bryce-Smith the man in charge kicked off by saying his written report “was significantly out of date” and that “the service roll out due to take place during July is now expected to start from the beginning of September for a period of 14 weeks”.
The bin procurement exercise had been a cock up, “several relatively minor ones”, he said, leaving the Council open “to potential future challenge”. The procurement exercise has been started all over again - so not minor consequences.
Mr. Bryce Smith’s side-kick Steven Didsbury said that 24,000 residents had asked for non-standard issue bin sizes and that the delay had the advantage of fewer people being on holiday during the bin issuing and old box collecting exercise; I think it is known as clutching at straws.
The plan was to issue new bins on a normal refuse collection day and for them to be used on the following collection day. About ten residents have refused the bins “for aesthetic reasons” but most people at the road shows had shown enthusiasm for them.
Cabinet Member Craske said that a total of “160,000 bins had been ordered”. (I thought they said that they had only just gone out for tender again, not ordered.)
Councillor Gareth Bacon became a little agitated - but rightly so - about the meeting Agenda, a Public Document, being anti-Brexit in tone. “The language is lacking in a number of areas.” He said the out-of-datedness could not be explained by the ten day Agenda printing timetable. The Agenda has “been put together sloppily.”
The anti-Brexit stance including reference to an undefined hard Brexit “has no place in this report at all”. “Officers should not use politically loaded terminology.”
The Deputy Director duly grovelled on both issues.
Councillor Bacon also complained about bins being left all over the street instead of being put back where they were found and expected to see improvements.
Councillor Val Clark was concerned about the high levels of food waste put out with the unrecyclable rubbish, “it really surprised us”. She went on to say that many people including her friends do not have or use the kitchen waste bin. She thought there should be “re-education”. A better fox-proof bin is available on request.
The official figures show that about 8,000 tonnes of food go into the brown waste bin each year but around 11,000 tonnes into general waste.
Councillor Cheryl Bacon said the delay was “very disappointing” and that announcing “late summer was pushing it a bit”. Has the delay cost anything, she asked. “A slight impact” was what she was told “but there are off-setting ones” because the recycling level will remain higher for longer. What is that all about? Is the new system going to reduce the recycling rate?
Councillor Stefano Borella asked if the borough could go even greener by buying some electrically powered refuse vehicles. He was told that the problem right now is that only small all electric vehicles are available - which is true - but some with electrically powered hoists may be purchased soon. What is the point of that if the battery is charged by the diesel engine? Quieter when operating perhaps but the exhaust fumes still end up in Bexley’s atmosphere.
All the vehicles will have to be electric by 2025 because of government regulations combined with their ten year life cycle.
Councillor Borella thought that more details of where Bexley’s waste ends up should be available but it had fallen victim to the Council’s policy of pruning its website to a bare minimum.
Councillor June Slaughter thought “a clamp down” for persistent failure to recycle properly should be considered but Mr. Bryce-Smith said the law makes fixed penalties virtually impossible to implement and “persuasion and education” was preferred.
Finally it was revealed that around 2,000 properties are unsuitable for wheelie bins and will keep their boxes and the total expenditure on new bins will be in the region of two and a half to three million pounds not including new vehicles.