Saturday, 8 September 2012

Thoughts On Wokingham's Waste Survey

Written by Anthony Vick, Earley Lib Dem Campaigner 

Have you seen the Wokingham Council's survey on the changes to our household waste collection? What do you think about it? If you haven't already you can complete it here http://consultations.wokingham.gov.uk/waste_collection_review/waste_collection_review.htm

I'm pleased Wokingham Council have decided to ask residents what they think about the changes to our waste collection scheme but, well, it's a bit late isn't it? The new system has been in place since April after all and surely they should be asking people what they think before doing things? But perhaps that's just me.

I note the survey fails to reference the implementation of the scheme and whether we were impressed with how it was rolled out, they don't ask if you received the right sized or the right amount of bin bags, and they don't offer to replace them if you haven't. Neither does the survey ask whether you feel additional bags are too expensive or if you would like to supply them yourself.

There is also no mention of whether you would like to recycle more, they do ask if you know what you should be putting in the recycling boxes (we think contamination rates must have risen sharply), but they don't ask what else you would like to recycle or offer options on how they might achieve this in the future. Other Council across the Country manage to recycle more types of waste, so why can't we?

In summary, it's great Wokingham Council is giving residents the chance to voice their opinion, but the sceptic in me can't help think this is a public relations exercise, more about appeasing upset residents and putting forward the arguments for changing our waste collection scheme after the decisions have already been made. Tory Councillors seem to want their cake and eat it, they cry "We haven't raised council tax", but they don't want to admit that to do that they have had to cut our services and that households across the Borough were not consulted beforehand.

Footnote: I have complained to the Local Government Ombudsman about the way Wokingham Borough Council has implemented this scheme, I don't believe it's legal to force residents to purchase bags from a monopoly supplier (in this case Wokingham Council itself), but although the LGO have accepted my complaint they have told me informally that it is very unlikely they will be able to investigate a policy decision which affects the whole of the Borough, it seems the only way to hold Tory councillors to account is through the ballot box.

Update: The Local Government Ombudsman has now confirmed that it will not be able to pursue my complaint.