Tuesday 29 May 2018

Questions for the Environment Committee - Are they getting half the story?

Next Tuesday is the Environment Committee  will consider some massive changes to the refuse service (which you can read here) including the removal of the food waste brown bin collection and a suspension of green bin collection for 3 months over the winter. I have been through the report in detail and have submitted the following questions. It will be interesting to see what answers I get.

Agenda Item 7
  1. At  1.4 in the report it identifies the problem with the transfer station floor and attributes the blame to Wilmott Dixon. At some point during the construction process a surveyor must have signed off this element of construction in order for Wilmott Dixon to be paid. If the floor was not laid to the correct specification why wasn’t this picked up at that stage and does this call into question the quality of project management?
  2. I was told by a councillor that they were told the floor repair would only take “a couple of days” yet the disruption caused seemed to last much longer. How long was this area out of action and why were councillors given inaccurate information?
  3. At 1.8 the report says the average payment rate is 69% but fails to mention that Littering makes up 83% of the fines with a 73% payment rate, Duty of Care notices make up 8.4% of fines with a  72% payment rate yet Flytipping, which is a very serious problem, represents only 8.7% of fines and had only a 34% payment rate. As such:
  4. Other than Harrow have there been any other benchmarks to give confidence that the payment rate for littering will not fall when  the early payment discount is removed?
  5. Have you calculated the impact of stopping the early payment discount on small businesses who may have failed to get their duty of care paperwork in order within 7 days given the pressures they are under already?
  6. Have you asked NSL why they have failed to collect two thirds of the flytipping fines given that if they were collected at the same rate as other fines (72%) that would generate an additional £107,000 of income?
  7. How much of the total environmental enforcement fine income comes to the council and how much goes to NSL and who will benefit most from the removal of this early payment discount, LBB or NSL?
  8. At 1.11 the report identifies the cost of the waste and recycling service. How much extra does it cost having to run the service out of two depots including one which is outside of the borough and would costs be reduced if all services were run from one depot?
  9. At 1.17 the report talks about double shifting. Please can you clarify at what time the earliest rounds would start and at what time would the latest rounds finish?
  10. At 1.17 the report talks about local alternative bulking points. Given the difficulty in finding the Oakleigh Road Depot and the likely planning opposition you will get from residents when they find they are going to have waste tipped and bulked close to their homes, do you think this is a realistic option?
  11. At 1.22 you state that the cost of separate food waste collection is approximately £300,000 per annum. Given that it is collected with the blue bins by the same crew, that the food waste is tipped into a compartment on the blue waste refuse vehicle, can you explain how the £300,000 saving is calculated.
  12. To what extent will the removal of brown bins and the combining of food and general waste undermine the Courtauld Commitment 2025 to reduce food waste especially if you can’t measure it?
  13. Have the council undertaken any of the initiatives set out in WRAP Household food waste collections guidance: Section 11 which saw tonnage rates increase in 18 of the 19 pilot projects and with more than half showing tonnage rates increase by more than 13% (with the highest at 62%)?
  14. To what extent will the 20% reduction in throughput of the IVC at Edmonton affect its viability and what was NLWA response to this proposed reduction.?
  15. Has anyone considered what signal the withdrawal of food bin will sent to residents and is the risk that it will be interpreted that people can throw anything in the black bin, impacting recycling rates?
  16. What will happen to all the redundant brown bins and kitchen caddies and what is the cost of recycling them?
  17. To what extent will the removal of the last 16 bring sites lead to more flytipping or recyclable product being thrown in the black bins?
  18. In the 3 month winter  period 2016/17 how much green waste was collected?
  19. What is the risk that green waste will either be flytipped or put into black bins when the green bin collection is suspended.
  20. To what extent have you consulted with the many small gardening businesses in Barnet who work through the winter and typically place the garden waste they gather at a resident’s home in the resident’s green bin and has anyone asked them what the impact may be either in term of cost or whether their services simply will not be used during the suspension period?
  21. Will green bin collection staff be laid off during the service suspension and how easy will it be to ramp up staffing levels when the service recommences?
  22. Why do private contractors have to comply with time banded collections in town centre, will it make it more inconvenient/expensive for them and is this simply a strategy to give the council’s commercial waste collection an unfair advantage?
  23. Given that the energy cost of streetlighting is underspent will you take this opportunity to increase the lux levels of streetlight which are now at an unreasonably low level?

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