Tuesday 21 October 2014

Keith Perrin had 'no problem' with £40 garden waste charge

Gaynor Lloyd has sent me this comment on suggestions that the Garden Tax was a contributing factor to Cllr Keith Perrin's resignation.  (It is published here as it was too long to go in as a normal comment on the original story)

As Keith Perrin's wife, could I just make a comment? I  was around when - after the election and  as new Lead Member - Keith  was looking at the whole "package" of changes to the waste arrangements: considering  the overall  contract,  and the variations including those for food and green waste. I know what  research he did , and how much time he spent  raising  questions with officers, etc. I   watched him deliver information about the changes in various forums, and answer numerous residents' and councillors' questions, including at Scrutiny - and follow up those questions which he was unable to answer. I can  say that Keith had -  and has  - no problem with the "garden tax"  (though he may not be keen on calling it that!) or with the overall changes .   What follows is the article he did for the Sudbury Court Courier in our Ward, while he was Lead Member, and which sets out Keith's genuinely held views. 

" Changes to Waste Services in Brent by Northwick Park Councillor Keith Perrin

After being elected to the Council in May, for which I thank you all, I became Lead Member for the Environment in June.   Almost immediately, the  Council announced proposed changes to its Waste Services.  Since then, I have been questioned daily and often at great length on the subject.  I have had to understand the issues, the waste contract with Veolia (the Council's contractor) and the position in the Borough as a whole. Most contentious is the new 'opt in' £40 charge for a garden waste bin   - but the changes are about much more.  

These changes are being introduced for two reasons.  Put simply, the Council has no choice. It has to save money and it has to reduce waste. The changes should achieve both.  More than that, they will be  fair and overall improve the waste collection service  to all the residents in the Borough.  

The basic principles behind the changes:
·         We have to improve recycling rates
·         We have to reduce overall collected waste (2011 Waste Regulations). Waste sent to landfill costs us £108 a tonne.
·         We have to reduce the overall cost of waste disposal.  Mixed garden and food waste  costs £88 a tonne to process;  food waste on its own costs less than £30 a tonne and garden waste £34.
·         We have to save money or increase income. We have a £53 million budget deficit.  The Government won't let us raise Council Tax; the Council is bound by law to provide services - which cost money. We have to do what we can. These changes will  reduce the cost of the waste contract by a projected £378,000 per annum (and potentially more).

So - back to the Green Bins.

I should explain that, unlike most waste,  the Council has no statutory obligation to collect garden waste for free; many councils have never done so; since 2005, some of us in Brent have been lucky and received this service. Living in the greener parts of the Borough, I have had a free green bin for mixed food and garden waste. (In fact, I have two.) But not every household  in Brent even has one.  

Their food waste has to go into the ordinary landfill bin, collected fortnightly  - so potentially smelling awful, and attracting vermin, maggots and flies. You could say that our green bins have been subsidised by other people in the Borough who have not even had a food waste collection service. This does not make sense. 

Going forward, all 110,000 Brent households will be supplied with a robust sealable 23 litre food waste container  - collected every week - by new compartmentalised recycling lorries, which will also  collect dry recycling (the blue bin stuff). In one step reducing landfill by taking food waste,  and the overflow recycling which has previously found its way into the grey bins,  because blue bins are only collected  fortnightly. This removal of recyclable waste from the landfill bins will save us over £70 a tonne. Since 50,000 households don't have a green bin, you can easily work out how much we might save.

I have looked at the evidence from other parts of the country. I know that people believe that garden waste will increase fly tipping.  I believe It hasn't happened anywhere, except Birmingham, where there were "demonstrations" prior to the local election in May.  I hope it won't happen in Brent;  I don't believe that those who love their gardens would be the sort of people who would fly tip their garden waste. 

I hope we gardeners will think of composting, mulching, leaving wildlife areas less cultivated,  and being community minded in, e.g., helping each other on shared runs to the free recycling centre in Park Royal. But, if there is fly tipping, Veolia collect it. And pay the excess landfill tax.  Veolia clearly believe it will work! And I believe it will. It has to. We must reduce waste,  not just to save money but for the sake of the planet and our children. And a bit more leaving of green wildness might help in that aim too. ".


Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up Martin and Gloria - I had briefly thought that Cllr Perrin might be be a man of principle, at least I hoped that he might be. Thanks for setting the record straight

Anonymous said...

A stupid question. How will Brent Council determine who has paid to have the garden waste collected? Some people already have these green bins.

Martin Francis said...

Not so stupid. It is an 'opt-in' charge and if you don't opt-in your bin will be taken away. You may have to ask for this. Whether the Council has a record of all those with a green bin is doubtful.

Anonymous said...

So will the bin cOllerton have a list of the addresses to collect from or will they need to go into every garden looking for a green bin? How much is this really going to save?

Martin Francis said...

Thanks for your comment FK which is noted.