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Waste Collection: the tortured arguments from the Liberal Democrats

This letter from the Chair of Kingston & Surbiton CLP was published by the Surrey Comet on 30th January 2015. It follows a series of flyers and letters from the Liberal Democrats claiming that the Conservative council’s policy of changing to a new cycle of waste collection would result in chaos and loss of money as people would not sort their rubbish. It follows from a previous blog on waste collection.

The Council decision on the introduction of a new system of waste collection in Kingston (15th January 2015) was taken behind closed doors, so the full financial details are deemed too secret for us, a mere electorate. What we do know, however, is that when the Liberal Democrats are on shaky ground, they repeat their nostrums ad nauseam in the hope that a distortion will transmogrify into a truth if repeated with sufficient frequency. So it is with waste disposal. Recycling bins overflow with soggy Liberal Democrat pamphlets maintaining that the Tories are axing recycling (although Edward Davey did concede in a letter to St James ward electors that they would still be able to put their vegetables in a weekly collection: presumably the Liberal Democrats had identified an excess of carnivorous electors). Even the Comet’s New Year letters page was bursting with misplaced political indignation.

Edward Davey claimed on your pages that the current system could be retained and money could still be saved, so I wrote to him asking him to e-mail me the costings that lay behind his assertion before the Council meeting. Needless to say a reply was received well after the meeting claiming that he believed money could be saved by introducing a container for paper and keeping weekly collection and that the Tories should have costed this option. As an opposition, the Liberal Democrats had not seen fit to ask about this. Surely this is their role as opposition. A question is certainly cheaper than flooding our letter-boxes.

The motion put forward by the Liberal Democrats at the Council meeting did not mention any alternative costing. I can only assume that there has been no alternative financial modelling by the Liberal Democrats, and the claim that the present system can continue as it is and save money is nothing more the usual Liberal Democrat political fiction.

Anyone who reads the Council papers on waste disposal will have realised that changes have to take place because the bespoke lorries are reaching the end of their life and have to be replaced. The lorries are unique because they have to house someone who sorts out the materials to be recycled for us.

Are the Liberal Democrats really saying we are so stupid we cannot discern what is glass and tin and what is paper, and put them in separate boxes?  Will Edward Davey’s breakfast be spoilt by anxiety over whether his cereals are in a tin or a cardboard container? Please!

Yes, there may be some places where an extra container for paper might present a difficulty but I do not recognise a Kingston where the majority of houses have no space outside the front door, as was suggested by Liberal Democrats. Any problems arising could be looked at and dealt with sensibly and sensitively.

The proposals suggest £600,000 saving a year. That would more than pay for our Labour councillor’s proposal for a living wage for 539 Council employees who are currently paid less than a living wage in a Borough with the highest council tax in London, and where there are far too few affordable houses and flats after 12 years of Liberal Democrat control. Or do the Liberal Democrats think the right NOT to sort our rubbish and have a full weekly collection is more important than paying the people our Council employs a living wage?