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‘Almost half’ of Camden’s residents to receive fortnightly rubbish collections from April

PUBLISHED: 11:25 28 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:57 28 July 2016

A Highgate resident believes this unwelcome visitor may have beeen attracted by overflowing bins

A Highgate resident believes this unwelcome visitor may have beeen attracted by overflowing bins

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Nearly half of Camden residents face having their weekly rubbish collections reduced to fortnightly from next April under radical proposals designed to save the council £5 million and “incentivise recycling”.

Overflowing bins in Milton Avenue - on the Haringey side of Highgate - where household waste is only collected once a fortnightOverflowing bins in Milton Avenue - on the Haringey side of Highgate - where household waste is only collected once a fortnight

Nearly half of Camden residents face having their weekly rubbish collections reduced to fortnightly from next April under radical proposals designed to save the council £5 million and “incentivise recycling”.

All households will continue to receive weekly collections of recycling and food from separate containers - known colloquially as “yuck” bins - but the council has not yet announced which homes will have to go 14 days between waste collections.

Camden is also proposing an annual £75 charge to collect garden waste in a move likely to anger many residents in the north of the borough.

Christopher Riley, chair of the Milton Residents’ Association, who lives on the Haringey side of Highgate, warned Camdeners that less regular collections by bin men could mean more frequent visits from vermin.

Camden Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland has 'great concern' about the council's proposals for fortnightly rubbish collectionsCamden Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland has 'great concern' about the council's proposals for fortnightly rubbish collections

Mr Riley said: “Since Haringey introduced fortnightly collections, there have definitely been some unpleasant side-effects. “We have problems with crows and foxes tipping up the sacks, as well as increased fly-tipping.

“Sometimes the lids are up on the bins because they are overflowing - and the smell attracts the foxes off Parkland Walk, because of course people are still throwing food out with their normal waste.

“I would say the foxes and crows are more of a problem then rats - although there was the incident of the monster rat, which was in the Ham&High a couple of years ago, which could have been linked to the rubbish.”

And he warned: “It will be a massive headache for the people of Camden. I would advise them to act fast and pull together to try and oppose this as strongly as possible.

Cllr Meric Apak said the changes will savel £5 million a year while encouraging more recyclingCllr Meric Apak said the changes will savel £5 million a year while encouraging more recycling

“They should lobby their councillors. The problem is that once the contract has been negotiated, it’s pretty much a done deal, so they need to act now.”

Camden’s proposals were given the green light at a cabinet meeting last week, and with an overwhelming Labour majority of councillors, it is expected to pass through a full council meeting in due course.

Households deemed to have “sufficient space” will be provided with a wheelie bin, and those without enough room will be given council-branded sacks - which they will have to use, or risk not having their rubbish collected.

Meric Apak, Camden’s environment chief, said that at least 70 per cent of the contents of an average Camden rubbish bin are recyclable.

He said: “Residents have told us that they support increasing recycling in Camden, and reducing the amount of waste produced.

“All households in the borough will continue to receive a weekly recycling and food waste collection. But by reducing residual rubbish collection to some properties to fortnightly, we believe that we can encourage a behaviour change to drive up our recycling rates.”

Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of the Conservative opposition in Camden, plans to “call in” the decision in a bid to make the council think again about the proposals - which she believes are too dictatorial.

She said: “We have had great concerns about fortnightly collections since it was first suggested.

“It impacts on all our residents everyday. The changes are so much a part of everyone’s daily life that they really need to understand the proposals before you make a decision.”

She added: “I understand the drive for a recycling agenda, but you can’t dictate people’s behaviour from the Town Hall.

“Part of this policy is that everyone has to buy in wholeheartedly to the recycling agenda. They are assuming that everyone will use the ‘yuck’ bins - for food waste - but it’s enormous behavioural change to assume.

“(Cllr Apak) said it’s not going to be implemented like a police state, but it’s not sounding as if there is much choice for residents.”

She said she believes the proposed £75 a year charge for collecting garden waste is an unfair charge when residents already pay council tax.

She said: “They’re looking at this like it’s an additional service, but Camden is known for having beautiful green suburbs, and residents who are maintaining their gardens are actually improving biodiversity and air quality and making it look lovely, and now they are going to pay the equivalent of ‘garden tax’.”

She added that she is concerned about the possibility of neighbourly disputes in blocks of flats, with people taking each others council-branded sacks, which will only be delivered quarterly.

But at last week’s cabinet meeting, Camden’s finance chief Theo Blackwell said:“I think it’s a little bit disingenuous of the Conservatives to try and paint this as the beginning of a “lord of the flies” type scenario that sets neighbour against neighbour.”

And Cllr Apak said that residents who failed to comply would receive letters rather than fines - initially, at least. He said: “The reason why we are going for branded bags is because we want to restrict the amount of residual waste ,,,this is not going to be a police state approach.”

Cllr Leyland said the process of drawing up the proposal and putting it out to tender has been “a little bit cloak and dagger”, with a lack of proper consultation with residents.

Last year, the council carried out its Camden Waste Challenge - but this was a broad, general consultation about what people thought was possible in terms of recycling rather than putting a specific proposal to them.

The council’s current waste collector is Veolia, with the contract due to expire at the end of March 2017.

It has not yet announced who will take on the new, eight year environmental services contract - worth £23.7 million in total - although it has a “preferred bidder”.

The council said in a statement that all households affected by the changes will be contacted in advance of April next year, and added: “Fortnightly rubbish collections are now provided by 76 per cent of local authorities in the UK, including highly urban areas.”

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