Controversial Rotherham Council bin changes defended amid criticism

ROTHERHAM’S waste chief has defended changes to bin collections, despite fierce criticism from some colleagues.

Cllr Emma Hoddinott, cabinet member for waste, roads and community safety, faced challenges from Lib Dem and UKIP colleagues at a full council meeting over plans to reduce grey bin sizes and charge for garden waste collection.

Cllr Adam Carter, Lib Dem for Brinsworth and Catcliffe, said: “The waste collection changes don’t go far enough in addressing the concerns of local residents.

“Why is it that this council cannot introduce plastic recycling?”

Cllr Hoddinott replied: “We do recycle plastic. You can take it to the waste sites and it is extracted from grey bins at the facility in Manvers.”

She added that less than five per cent of the borough's general waste goes to landfill and that kerbside plastic recycling would cost the authority £700,000 a year.

Cllr Carter also raised concerns that smaller grey bins would increase fly-tipping, particularly in Eastwood, which he described as a “major fly-tipping area”.

He put the problem down to “the administration's failures here”.

Cllr Hoddinott accepted that Eastwood was a “hotspot”, but said: “Last year, there were around 500 incidents of fly-tipping in Eastwood.

“This year we have only had 265, so actually we have seen a reduction there.”

She added: “There are also problems in the north and south of the borough, in the woods and country lanes.

Fly-tipping is a problem now. Having smaller bins should not be an excuse for fly-tipping.

“We haven’'t seen any evidence that smaller bins increase fly-tipping. 

“In other areas with smaller bins, recycling has increased 20 per cent. 

“That's a massive change.”

Cllr Hoddinott said anyone struggling with the new grey bins, which will be 25 per cent smaller, would get help increasing their recycling rate.

Residents will also have to pay £40 per year if they want garden waste collecting, under the plans.

Cllr Allen Cowles, UKIP group leader, asked Cllr Hoddinott what the changes -— which he called a “bin tax” — would cost.

Cllr Hoddinott replied: “It’s not a bin tax, I think that’s quite misleading.

“This is an optional service and people do not have to have it if they don’t want it.

“We’re working on the principle that the service charge will cover the cost.”

Cllr Cowles pressed Cllr Hoddinott on the overall costs of the planned waste changes and criticised the council for paying consultants to help draft the plans.

She replied: “I don't have the figures to hand,” adding: “Officers did bring in external advice.

“These are massive changes affecting every household in the borough so I don't think there’s anything wrong with bringing external experts in.”

Cllr Cowles added: “I think you will have to review this because costs will increase. 

“And if you keep your garden tidy, Labour will tax you for it.”

Cllr Hoddinott replied: “This isn’t linked to council tax and we won’t be coming to people for an extra £40 if they don't want the [green bin] service.

“We also need to have conversations with the public around things like composting, because that is much more environmentally-friendly.”