Those wheelie bins that Crewe residents – and everyone else in Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester – use for waste disposal have once again been given centre stage, thanks to another of what Robin Day so memorably called “here today and gone tomorrow politicians”. The politician in question is Fat Eric, and the reason is the upcoming Tory Party conference.
When the Communities Secretary somehow found £250 million to restore weekly bin collections last week, some in and around the Fourth Estate thought this was A Very Good Thing, with the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre claiming victory. The Maily Telegraph followed close behind. Fat Eric did his usual Labour-blaming grandstanding.
And incredibly, given that quarter of a billion notes would be needed to revert to weekly collections for just five years, the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) has announced its enthusiastic support for waste – as in money. Because there will be far more than the upfront cost sprayed up the wall if this scheme is allowed to proceed, something I considered back in June.
Households in Cheshire East (that’s Crewe, Macclesfield and Congleton) have a refuse collection every week, which alternates between the “anything” bin – which goes to landfill – and the “recycling” bin, which goes to that big hangar near Shotton. Paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, steel and aluminium all go in the recycling bin, to be sorted by the councils’ private sector partner.
That private sector partner did not just set up their £17 million facility at Shotton on a whim: contracts have been drawn up and signed on to, committing all parties to the deal for three years with a further three year option. So it would be a matter of either seeing out those contracts, or wasting more money in penalty payments. Either way, this shows the short-sightedness of Pickles’ approach.
And that would be the case for hundreds of local authorities around England and Wales: more unnecessary landfill would result, less recycling would take place, costs would rise, and all for the scoring of a very cheap political point. Hopefully after the Tory conference, Fat Eric will be prevailed upon to stop his grandstanding and quietly put away this plainly daft scheme.
One more for the bin, indeed.