Conservative and Labour councillors joined Liberal Democrats in throwing out Wiltshire Council’s proposals to ‘harmonise’ waste and recycling across the county.
A meeting of the Environment Select Committee on 12th January considered a report from a task group set up to look at the future of waste and recycling. The ‘official’ verdict of the task group was that all of Wiltshire should have fortnightly rubbish collections and chargeable green waste collections, and that no attempt should be made to introduce kerbside and plastic recycling collections immediately, though they could be brought in within five years.
In contrast, the Liberal Democrat minority report, produced by cllrs Peter Colmer and Rosemary Brown, says it condemned the way the task group had operated as a tool of the administration, demanded public consultation on changes, asked for a more imaginative approach to waste collection, and objected to the way Wiltshire Council was settling for a relatively low rate of recycling whilst other councils were doing much better.
In proposing the acceptance of the minority report cllr Steve Oldrieve (LD) pointed out that service to the public was being reduced across the county. “We were told that moving to one council would bring improvements, but instead the council is trying to move backwards on recycling,” he said.
Several Conservative councillors on the committee supported cllr Oldrieve’s proposal with only a few diehard loyalists sticking to the party line. However the council’s cabinet is not obliged to observe the committee’s recommendation so the original plans are likely to go through.
Cricklade councillor Peter Colmer (LD) said, “The waste harmonisation strategy proposed by the current administration is yet another example of reducing services to the lowest common denominator, in contrast to the promises of improvements in services to the residents of Wiltshire made at the time of migrating to a unitary authority.”
Salisbury councillor and committee member Brian Dalton said, “I hope the administration will take note of the cross-party anger at the way the changes are being pushed through, and will take the time to think again. We need an honest look at the costs of the various proposals and we need to take a more positive approach to recycling.”