Monday 11 June 2018

Barnet Council and the big bin porkie pie story

Spot the Council Porkie!
Sit down children, I'm going to tell you a fairy story.....

Actually I won't bother, I will just point you in the direction of this highly misleading press release on the Barnet Council website, regarding bin collections. It is rather embarrassingly entitled
I've added my comments in Red Italics just so you can get a flavour of why this is so misleading 

Barnet Council’s Environment Committee last night (Tuesday, 5 June 2018) agreed a range of proposals to improve the efficiency of recycling and waste collections. (Barnet Eye - It must be noted that this committee has a Conservative majority, who simply used their numbers to bludgeon the changes through. The committee did not agree. It was split on Party lines) 

The changes are aimed at ensuring services are run in the most efficient, effective and economical way possible. Committee members agreed proposals, including the reorganisation of recycling and refuse rounds to improve efficiency. This will allow Barnet Council to plan for future population growth in the borough, as well as enabling crews to be much more responsive to localised needs and issues. (Barnet Eye - It is interesting that there is no mention in the council papers, which are circulated to members to support their decision making, that they do not mention anything about being "more responsive to local needs and issues". Given the various changes made, it appears that there is actually far less scope for flexibility. The papers specifically state 'Double shifting – using a reduced vehicle fleet to carry out the same number of rounds with each/selected vehicles undertaking two collection rounds per day. This would involve some collections happening earlier and later than they currently do' The idea that anyone might believe that reducing the number of vehicles and introducing double shifting, will make the service more flexible, is quite frankly ridiculous). 

 Changes to the way food waste will be collected from residents’ homes was also agreed. Currently, the separately collected food waste is taken to an anaerobic digestion facility for energy generation. With only around 25 per cent of homes making use of separate weekly food waste collections (Barnet Eye - According to the papers that accompanied this meeting "Based on a survey undertaken in 2015 only 25-30% of residents participated on a weekly basis in this service" One has to assume that the Papers contained the most up to date information. This looks like a clear attempt to mislead the public, as it was an out of date survey and the press release clearly stated 25%, when the report say 25-30%. Many residents have reported issues with the collections, which have depressed collection rates and the council has put minimal efforts into trying to promote the service since the 2015 survey. ), residents will instead be asked to dispose of their food waste in their black waste bin. This waste will then be taken to an Energy from Waste facility, where it will be used as fuel for electricity generation. (Barnet Eye - Again this is a highly dishonest distortion of the truth. At the meeting the council announced that food waste is already being sent with black bin waste for burning and has been since December 2017. This is a clear attempt to mislead the people of Barnet. What this explain is that the current system uses green technology to compost the food, wheras the new system will simply see the food waste burned, producing CO2 and other greenhouse emissions. ) 

The additional collection cost of the separate weekly food waste service is £300,000 per year, for around 5,000 tonnes of food waste, equating to £60 for every tonne collected. Green garden waste collections will also undergo some changes. Services will be simplified with collections only taking place on weekdays. They will also be reconfigured to reflect the reduction in usage over the winter months, with a six-week suspension of services taking place each year. This schedule was trialled during last winter. Collection of Christmas trees will, however, be scheduled to take place throughout January. (Barnet Eye - The Barnet Conservatives made a manifesto committment to retain weekly bin collections. I have re-read the manifesto several times and there was no mention at all of a six week break in the service over the winter months. For many active gardeners, this is a time when gardens are cleared and maintenance work performed, as plants are dormant and are less likely to be damaged. It is highly disappointing that the Conservatives played so fast and loose with the truth in their manifesto. I trust Barnet residents will take note. These changes were clearly planned long before the election. It is worth noting that no one from the Barnet Tories mentioned in their manifesto that last years suspension was a trail for a permanent winter break). 

 Committee members also agreed for penalties for anyone caught littering or fly-tipping to be toughened up to act as a deterrent. Those caught littering will now face an increased fine of £100, while anyone caught fly-tipping, will be handed a fixed penalty notice of £400, as well as facing possible prosecution. (Barnet Eye - Fly tipping is a scourge. I would advocate zero tolerance with prosecution in all cases, seeking confiscation of cars and vans involved. Barnet has efficient recycling centres at places such as Summers Lane. Anyone too lazy to use these should be made an example of. I'd like to see them named and shamed and prevented from doing it again). 

 In total, the proposed changes agreed by the committee will save the taxpayer £790,000 and come into effect in September 2018. (Barneteye - Again this is misleading, as the Food Composting changes have already commenced, with brown bins being emptied into the general waster with black bins by the collection teams).

Chairman of the Environment Committee, Councillor Dean Cohen, said: “We know that refuse and recycling collections are of huge importance to residents in Barnet. That’s why we will continue to provide weekly waste collections. We are also looking at how we can continue to provide a high-quality service, in the most efficient way. (Barnet Eye - It is clear from this statement that bin collections are still under review. The Council has already passed a budget motion, in March 2018, prior to the election, saying that if efficiencies and savings were not met, the weekly bin collection would go. It seems to me simply to be a matter of time now. I predict the introduction of a two tier system, where Barnet residents who can afford to pay for a weekly bin collection can pay for it and less well off residents will get a more 'economical service'. I also expect it within two years, so that residents will be given time to forget that a manifesto promise was so blatently broken) 

“The proposals agreed will see more efficient weekly collection rounds, food waste incorporated into existing collection services, garden waste collections better tailored to suit demand, and stiffer penalties for anyone caught littering or fly-tipping in the borough.” (Barnet Eye - These changes are clearly the result of an administration in melt down, which simply cannot balance the books. To try and claim otherwise is simply outrageous spin. This press release is perhaps the most shameful and misleading council communication in the history of Barnet Council . The Barnet Conservatives should simply tell the truth. They have mismanaged Council finances and now the council is in a mess).
If you want to see responsible recycling retained, there is a petition with the following text: 

"Barnet plan to scrap the dedicated food waste collection which currently goes to anaerobic digestion. Instead the food waste will either be burned or sent to landfill. The saving it will make is £2 per household per year or around 4p a week. This goes against the advice of the London assembly which says "We recommend that boroughs should endeavour to include separate food waste collections in their waste management regimes across all property types."

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