Green campaigner in Milton Keynes calls for right to opt out of wheelie bins

A green campaigner has attempted to thrust a spoke in the wheels of a trial to introduce wheelie bins in Milton Keynes.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 1:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 1:48 pm

While the three political parties at Milton Keynes Council have been cuddling up on proposals to run a trial for a brand new rubbish collection system in the city, eco warrior Alan Francis wants everyone to have the right to opt out.

Mr Francis, a long time Green party activist and parish councillor in New Bradwell, slammed the council for taking a decision to launch a trial in thousands of homes across Milton Keynes before consulting on it.

“That is contrary to the parishes’ protocol,” said Cllr Francis at a delegated decisions meeting on Tuesday. “Lots of streets are not suitable for wheelie bins. There is nowhere to store them.”

Tuesday's delegated decisions meeting

He claimed that when they are left for 24 hours a day on pavements they would only leave one metre (three feet) for pedestrians and others to pass by, which would cause an obstruction for people pushing buggies.

“All residents should be able to opt out,” Mr Francis told Cllr Emily Darlington (Lab, Bletchley East) the elected head of public realm. “I urge you to add a sentence that people will be able to opt out if that’s what they want.”

David Proctor, the council’s waste contracts manager, told the meeting that the “15 criteria” for not having wheelie bins would be revealed to the public soon. Some people could be given boxes with lids instead, the meeting heard.

Cabinet member Cllr Darlington said the outcome of the trial was not a done deal. “I was brought up by scientists who believed in examining the data,” she said.

But she added that the council was “committed to weekly collections” of rubbish that can’t be recycled.

Cllr Darlington said the council would have three ways to measure the success or otherwise of the trial, which is due to start in the summer. They are that the new rubbish collection system made the city cleaner, greener, and safer.

She said that a “large number of injuries” are seen among the city’s refuse collection staff, but did not say how many.

Currently rubbish can be strewn across the city’s streets from waste and recycling bags by rats, foxes, and by wind.She added that the public, councillors, and parishes would be consulted as the pilot runs. “This does not mean we will be rolling out wheelie bins. We are going to look at the data and have a full consultation,” she said.

Cllr Norman Miles (Lab, Wolverton) said while he thought the trial was “on the whole a fairly good idea” he vowed to stand up for residents where the wheelie bins were causing an obstruction.

Cllr Darlington’s decision, which will be published on Friday, can be challenged by councillors and the public under the council’s rules. If it is unchallenged, it will go ahead as planned.