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Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson: Council's recycling pantomime

By citizenmike  |  Posted: January 29, 2014

insidepolitics

Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson

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Each week, public affairs reporter Michael Wilkinson takes a stroll down the corridors of power.

PANTOMIME season may have come to an end for many, but not so for Gloucester City Council.

Let me tell you a joke.

When asked why Gloucester’s recycling rates are so abysmally low at just 36 per cent compared to a target of 50 per cent, cabinet member for environment Saj Patel said: “More and more people are using electronic devices and using less paper and things come with less packaging these days and many people are composting in their own gardens so we are finding a reduction in recycling.”

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Perhaps the Cotswolds are a place where no computers exist and everything is double-wrapped in packaging because their recycling rates are a whopping 58 per cent. A fluke, you may say. For good measure, how about Cheltenham’s 45 per cent rate then?

If Saj can explain that one, I’d be intrigued to know the answer.

Does it have anything to do with the introduction of charges for garden waste collections perhaps?

If so, watch as the rates drop even further when Gloucester City Council ramps up the charges by another 10 per cent this year - if they get away with their current budget proposals.

Perhaps the answers lie in the environmental report Labour’s Mary Smith received from Saj last week. She asked him at a council meeting if he could clarify its contents, but he admitted he didn't know what was in it. “I’m surprised that you don’t know what is in a report with your name on it,” snorted Mary.

Oh dear. Even in the pantomime, you need to learn the lines before going on stage.

VOTING every four years instead of every year for three consecutive years could save Gloucester City Council something in the region of £195,000.

Labour say it could also bring stability to an administration for four years, in the same way that the current Government introduced fixed-term five-year parliaments. It means council bosses will be able to better plan for the future without the possibility that just 12 months into their plans they are swept aside by up to one third of the council’s seats changing hands.

The Lib Dems argue that some wards have one or two councillors, while others have three, and elections by thirds results in some people in the city voting one year, while others do not.

It is a move that will be ultimately resisted by the Conservatives, even though they won’t nail their colours to the mast on the issue just yet.

They fear a change in the political mood could wipe their administration out in one swoop.

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6 comments

  • Bonkim2003  |  February 13 2014, 1:00AM

    Not clear why garden waste is labelled recycling - garden waste collection was started in the early 2000s to get something from nothing. Collecting thousands of the new material and then showing that as a percentage of the total was a con-trick by councils in response to the then government setting recycling targets. It costs money - a million or so that is why councils introduced charges. It is absolute bonkers - now that the public have gone off home composting - who wants to work if the council collected for free? Environmentally collection and central composting apart from the cost also results in added carbon emissions. Don't call garden and food waste collections environmentally friendly - quite the opposite.

  • Bonkim2003  |  January 31 2014, 12:24AM

    Recycling rates means little - councils waste huge amounts of money for diverting very little from landfill. Resale value of much of the recycled materials are low and no one appears to carry out careful cost and environmental impacts analysis of recycling before embarking on complex recycling arrangements. The multi-bin system in place in Gloucestershire is a wast of money and in effect increases the carbon fuutprint. A single bin weekly collection and materials recovery facility would be an ideal mix once the Javelin park EFW facility comes into operation.

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  • JemmyWood  |  January 30 2014, 12:00PM

    Why is Gloucester's recycling rates so low... its because the couincil don't understand it and thanks to the (mis) guidance of the laste 'Waste Czar' Gloucestershire had in the shape Stan Stan the Burning Man and Henchman Hawthorne, the only option they were given was to Burn it... burn it all....., with their pet project (which will cos us £M's whatever the outcome). RoadWombat has hit the nail on the head... its all about making money. This pathetic rule of 'we will only recycle certain items' is just pure rubbish (see what I did there? geddit?) A LOT more could be recycled if they wanted to and got a DECENT recycling contract in place, with a proper recycling center. The current contract is about low yield, low cost.. just to be seen to be doing something... unfortunately... what they are doing is not enough. Don't worry though, the council has buckets of other cash it can throw at its vanity...

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  January 30 2014, 11:43AM

    Recycling in Gloucester is just all about 'Euro box-ticking'. They say 'jump', we say 'how high'. Fact is, the kerbsiders are the biggest disaster I have ever witnessed. We COULD achieve nearly 100% recycling if everything was taken and sorted in one large recycling plant. But no, we can only recycle certain items, and only then, with a gas guzzling monstrosity outside your house for quarter of an hour! They belch out fumes, leave oil drips, shards of glass, tin can lids, and other piles of whatever falls out of any given hole! And then, with the food waste, we have to use a precious resource, ie hot water, to clean the residue of the stinking vegetation and maggots.......YUK!

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  • MrGarnet  |  January 29 2014, 8:44PM

    As there is a seeming slide into EU dictatorship on this so called political sector can I add this? We are now ruled as have been for a good many years by what the French decree. http://tinyurl.com/p4h2ojh

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  • RoadWombat  |  January 29 2014, 8:11PM

    "Recycling"? No, it's refuse disposal and something the council is mandated to do. Whether it's 35%, 58% (or 1% or 100%!) makes no difference. It's all about money making as far as they are concerned. But does the money they make ever result in lowered council tax? No. Instead the greedy council (still awash with money despite a little enforced austerity in recent months) use it an an excuse to spend, spend, spend as they have always done on any vanity scheme that takes their fancy.

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