The great Milton Keynes rubbish debate: 'What do you think about wheelie bins? Vote in our online poll
What do you think of the wheelie bin proposal in Milton Keynes?
Councillors have voted overwhelmingly to consult with residents about replacing black rubbish sacks with wheelie bins.
The move follows years of deliberation and numerous calls from householders complaining about rubbish bags splitting open and causing rat problems.
It is not yet known when the consultation will start but councillors have promised everybody will have a chance to have their say.
Already online comments on the Citizen's Facebook page have revealed almost 80 per cent of residents back the wheelie bin proposal.
Many agree with one reader who said: "It's a 100% need wheelie bins. Having moved to MK from out of the area was totally unprepared for not having wheelie bins. Wheelie bins make life easier in so many ways and reduces the mess made by the cats/birds. It will also reduce the use of single use plastic bags."
Another resident wrote: "Definitely! I live by woods and the lake and our bags are all shredded by the wildlife before bin men make it here."
But some residents think the bins could be a bad idea for MK.
"I live in a terraced house with no front garden. Where will I put a great big wheelie bin? said one.
Another said: "The problem is people leave wheelie bins in front gardens , I’ve seen streets in other areas where pretty much every house had two or three bins in there front gardens , different colour bins for each type of rubbish .. it looked an absolute eyesore .. at least with bags it’s once a week, not hundreds of bins lined up on the street on a permanent basis."
Some people fear a switch to wheelie bins would lead to a rise in council tax to cover the cost. Or, as in other areas of the country, householders would be asked to pay up to £50 for one.
Others question whether the existing refuse collection vehicles would be able to cope. They also fear the move could led to fortnightly collections as in neighbouring Bedfordshire.
But for the majority of people there was no argument. "Yes, Yes, it's a resounding yes. And it's about time too," wrote one resident.
At the moment residents in MK have to buy their own black sacks to get rid of their non-recyclable rubbish, but this is thought to be one of the reasons that recycling rates in the city have flatlined.
And when people instead place things like nappies and crisp packets in the recycling sacks, it contaminates the waste. This leads to the council being fined around £700,000 each year by waste companies.
The council’s Cabinet member for public realm, Cllr Emily Darlington (Lab, Bletchley East) had already announced, in June, that she would be consulting on the issue.
Waste contracts run by the council come to an end in 2023, which gives the opportunity to create new ones, and set out what the public and the council wants.
But Cllr Kerrie Bradburn (Lib Dem, Broughton) in her maiden speech called for any decisions to understand the different challenges that estates face. She said a consultation exercise with the public in her own ward had backed a move to replace black sacks.
Fellow Lib Dem newbie, Cllr Paul Trendall (Campbell Park and Old Woughton) compared the issue of wheelie bins in Milton Keynes with Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“We’ve been kicking the can down the road for 15 years. We’re in danger of making Brexit look speedy,” he said.
“We’re still using single-use plastic sacks when the world is telling us not to.”
In the light of the recent discovery of at least 50 pink council recycling sacks in the Malaysian jungle, Conservative leader, Cllr Alex Walker, proposed an amendment to change future waste contracts.
The Tories wanted to require contractors to appoint a “reputable independent auditor” to investigate the waste supply chain. They also called for the Cabinet to publish the terms of reference for the investigation they have ordered
into the supply chain.
Cllr Walker said the council did not understand its supply chain and had instead blamed residents for misusing the old pink sacks which a BBC documentary team found in Asia.
Replying to an earlier question, Cllr Emily Darlington (Lab, Bletchley East), said she and council officers still had confidence that the council’s contractors were not responsible for MK waste bags ending up in a rubbish tip on the other side of the world. A review is understood to be a few weeks away from producing its own conclusions.
The council’s Labour and Lib Dem members united to vote down the Conservative amendment. But then all sides of the chamber voted in favour of the substantive motion.
The actual consultation exercise will be launched following a Delegated Decision by Cllr Darlington at a date to be decided.