Jul 24 2015

Harrow’s Brown Bin Charging Scheme – Crashed and Burned

harrow_council_logo2Harrow Council’s plans to start charging for brown bin collection from October this year have already gone wrong – three months before they were due to begin.

The original plan was to charge £75 a year for a collection every two weeks of what would become exclusively garden waste. Food and kitchen waste would be deposited into a new, extra, bin, which would continue to be collected weekly. However, at recent Cabinet meetings, leader of the opposition group, Conservative Cllr Susan Hall, challenged – in between withering looks – and without mercy, Labour’s Cllr Parmar over the plans, their robustness, level of planning, costings, and so on. “Yes,” declared Cllr Parmar. “It’s been costed, will work, blah blah,” to paraphrase the conversation.

The Council promised a sweetener of 18 months’ collection for the price of 12, to start off the scheme, but even that’s in doubt now.

So, what went wrong? Probably a combination of things: Cllr Parma’s blinkered view that everything was peachy, despite the council having little to no idea of who, exactly, would get free collections; a failed communications plan, that didn’t manage to engage residents, despite recently outsourcing council communications to LamCo – the communication group run by Labour-controlled Lambeth Council; a lack of care around the scheme, which punishes working residents (who would find depositing their own waste at the council dump difficult, given they hold down jobs) yet allows people on benefits (who probably have ample free time to tend gardens and visit Forward Drive) to have free collections. Perhaps worse still, it punishes people who choose not to have a car in order, perhaps, to make a small contribution to actually saving the planet – what are they supposed to do? Get a taxi to the dump once in a while? Take a bag of grass cuttings on the 140 bus? Maybe residents should get together, take an allotment plot between them, and turn it into a massive communal compost heap – at least they’d get a decent crop of runner beans out of it after a few years.

The scheme was always fatally flawed: why bother with fortnightly collections in the winter, for example, when garden waste is minimal – either reduce collections during that period, or increase them during the spring and summer when most people’s garden waste levels increase: a simple grass cutting – a weekly exercise in the spring and summer – can fill a brown bin with little difficulty for a modest-sized garden.

And all this comes on top of the council’s pointless consultation into the scheme – decisions had been taken (see elsewhere on iharrow.com) on going ahead, before the consultation had even finished.

The council provides 600+ services to residents, yet few have as much daily impact as bin collections, street cleaning and public realm. Leader Dave is clearly hoping he can get this unmitigated disaster in, forgotten about, and swept under the carpet before elections in three years time, and we wonder if this time, he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

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1 comment

  1. F.D.Billson

    The incompetence of Harrow Labour Council is there for all to see yet again.

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