…Cuts Wheelie Deep.
At the beginning of October 2011, the newspapers were awash with thoughts and opinions on…wheelie bins. Although it seems difficult to comprehend why the country would be in an uproar over such a small matter (although it’s been in an uproar about a lot less) this subject has really captured people’s imaginations.
So what’s ‘bin happening? According to the report in the North East’s Evening Chronicle, the weekly bin collection to which we-and our waste habits- have all grown accustomed, is soon to be cancelled. The government has allocated £250 million pounds of their budget to keeping this weekly bin-emptying service going, but it appears that the people of Tyneside are going to miss out.
The local council will, at best, receive £1m from this allocated fund, if they successfully bid for it at all. Taking this into account, and the additional £70m government cuts they’ve had to accommodate, Councillors in the North East have reached a decision; announcing at the start of October, that the weekly wheelie bin collection had to go. In many areas now, the green wheelie bin which holds general waste are to be collected every fortnight, whilst the blue recycling bins will be emptied on alternative weeks. Although this gives the households subject to the changes a more irregular service, it has still instigated the loss of 12 jobs, which is another concerning blow to the already precarious job situation here in the region.
The article in the Evening Chronicle reported that the Councillors did not take this decision lightly, and that the cuts made to their specific budget forced their hand in making this decision. Thankfully, one Labour councillor mentioned in the report, many people in the region prefer this decision. This is because, more often than not, they found their wheelie bins half empty every week and they would instead prefer for the money to be spent on education, and on caring for the young and the elderly.
In a converse opinion, the article contains a quotation from communities’ secretary Eric Pickles, who made the statement that: “(E)very household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week.” As one of the vital views that the article brings up, is that if the government can afford to spare £250m to save the wheelie bins, I can’t help asking the question: Why can’t they spend it on other basic rights, such as creating homes, and caring for the most vulnerable people? This is what the article suggests the people want.
This question aside, for the households in the North East, the fortnightly bin collection draws some positives. As the Councillors suggested, a less regular bin collection service may make households more willing to recycle, as they will need to utilize both bins to keep their waste manageable. And also, by making the decision to reduce collections, it’s good to see the council is making cutbacks in areas they think people are happy to be sacrificed.
There will of course be others who see the loss of the weekly bin collection service as a negative. Firstly, punctuated by a lady named Sue in article, some households may generate more waste than the fortnightly bin collection can accommodate. This therefore poses the question of where the excess refuse bags go; the waste will either have to sit in the home or in the streets. Either way, keeping refuse in living spaces will lessen the quality of the environment the people are living in. In addition to this, there may be some families who feel like other things take precedent over arranging for certain items to be recycled. There is also the added aside, that there are finances being given out across the country, that the region won’t benefit from.
Of course, Government cuts and what to do with the budget they have, is something that never has an easy answer. Cuts to wheelie bin collection is one of many government cuts, and the cleaning industry has not been spared from this. At Newlife Cleaning Systems, we have experienced the effects of the government cuts, which have filtered down through the councils, first-hand. In recent months, we have found ourselves providing school cleaning services to the region’s schools, when the council removed school cleaner’s from their budget, and left the responsibility to the head teacher. In times such as these, where every penny counts in every sector, we try to do our best for by providing a service which is competitive on price, without any compromise on quality. Let’s hope that the same thoughts go to the changes in the wheelie bin service, and that no compromises have to be made to households that suffer the change.
The original article in the Evening Chronicle can be found at: