LETTER: Ask the workers what they would do

RE “Consultation on Household Waste Collection Service”.

I have received the above referred communication..  To me the word “consultation” used by our council is a euphemism for “statement” in that I have no doubt that the decision on this subject matter has already been made.

The reasons given for the proposed changes are, in my opinion, extremely weak.  For instance, in order to put these changes into effect, all the current bins will have to be collected and destroyed, new bins will have to be purchased and delivered, new forms and invoices will have to be generated and, no doubt, mechanical alterations to the bin lorries will have to be carried out further to the new bins’ sizes. All of this will bring about massive expenditure which rather defies the council’s claim of “cost effectiveness”.

It is obvious that little thought has been given with regard to the possible ramifications of these suggestions. Firstly, having to store four bins rather than the present two bins and one box, will bring about massive problems to many householders, especially those who have little, or no, external space such as the old and new terraced properties. The older terraces, who may have small backyards, would be faced with having to wheel all these bins through their houses on collection days and then site them on narrow pavements. If there is no backyard or garden, where are householders supposed to store these four bins? In addition, having smaller “general” bins will cause problems for larger families.

It is obvious that there have been many complaints to the council about the limitations of the present garden waste collection. October is far too early for the cessation of this service. The suggestion that this service may be extended for the whole of the year, at a cost of £40, seems rather excessive, especially when one considers that most of the leaves, on many streets, which are clogging up our drives, pavements and gutters are actually from the council-owned trees! A more sensible solution would be to provide this service from March through to November which means extra expenditure for only two months, not five as proposed by the council.

I find it most amusing that our council state that they want to “bring us in line with other councils”. When has RMBC ever wanted to do this? I wish they would do this in all matters!

For example, why do we have 63 councillors when most other councils, much larger than our area, Sheffield for example, have far less? This number could be reduced by at least 50 per cent which would save us a massive amount in expenses.

Our council are extremely good at spending our hard-earned money but extremely poor at generating income, unlike most of our former councillors and aldermen.  These only received very basic expenses but gave their all, especially with regard to bringing income into our coffers whilst greatly appreciating all their employees’ efforts. Unlike our present councillors who, over the last few decades, have very short-sightedly constantly cut back on staff and have put very expensive private contractors in their place. At the same time, they have brought in very costly so-called “expert” consultants who have little knowledge of our town and its needs and cost limitations.

What our town badly needs is for our councillors and council workers to be pro-active with drawing up, and putting into effect, plans for generating extra income PRIOR to planning how to spend money we haven’t got. Earlier councils were very successful in doing this. For example, for many decades, we had an excellent catering service, with at least six public outlets, along with making council venues open for public hire which generated a very high level of income.

At the same time, local employment was greatly enhanced and we could afford to run our own bus service at very low fares; be the first council to mount a “free” Home Help Scheme along with a “free” Meals on Wheels Service for both the aged and the infirm. At the same time, other services for children and young people were provided such as our local Youth and Community Service which had an excellent national reputation.  Those were the days but they are no longer deemed to be viable, more’s the pity!

In conclusion, our council needs to realise that, rather than completely changing existing systems, all what is often needed is for small tweaks to be made. With regard to cancelling various vital services which brings about redundancies, why not actually consult these very experienced skilled workers and ask for their suggestions of an alternative way forward? How can money be saved? How can private income be generated via alternative public usage of practical skills, buildings, machinery etc? They might be surprised to find that many of their current employees, along with us, their paymasters, could teach them some common financial sense!

For example, one of the best improvements in recent years, that of installing the garden near to our lovely Parish Church, is a good example of providing an excellent public amenity at  very low cost. Especially when one considers that this was NOT a council plan in the first instance. With no public consultation, our council had demolished the original buildings on this site in order to build new commercial properties. It was then realised there was no finance available for such. Who saved the day? Yes, members of the public who came up with an alternative suggestion and the council ate humble pie and actually accepted this idea.

Mrs Joy Hodgkinson, Stafford Drive, Moorgate

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