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Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Malcolm Wade attacks Conservative plans for wheelie bins

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CONSERVATIVE plans for wheelie bins in the New Forest have been attacked by opposition Liberal Democrats as “pathetic” for not doing more to boost the area’s poor recycling rates.

Cllr Malcolm Wade, leader of the Lib Dem group on New Forest District Council, told the A&T many concerns raised by his party “remain unresolved”.

His intervention came after the multi-million-pound plans were backed last week by a cross-party committee.

Wheelie bins could be rolled out to the New Forest in 2024
Wheelie bins could be rolled out to the New Forest in 2024

As reported in the A&T, the scheme would scrap sack collections in favour of wheelie bins for mixed recycling and general waste, collected on alternate weeks.

Currently the district is the only area in Hampshire without wheelie bins, and has the county’s lowest recycling rate of 35% – well below the England average of 43%.

The Tories have defended their plans as the only way to meet government targets, and promised to educate residents about waste efficiency.

But Cllr Wade said: “NFDC’s Conservative administration has ignored modern waste collection management and recycling for years, resulting in one of the poorest recycling rates.

“Even with this change the administration is targeting a lowest acceptable level at 55%, which begs the question: why so low compared to other authorities?

“For example, St Albans City and District Council are already achieving 64.2% recycling rates.

“Our aspirations are just government baseline levels. It’s pathetic.”

The strategy failed to address key parts of waste management, he said, adding: “Other significant omissions from the recommendations are the actions taken to protect people and properties where the use of wheelie bins is impractical – the subject of which many of our group have received emails and calls.

Cllr Malcolm Wade has criticised the plans for wheelie bins
Cllr Malcolm Wade has criticised the plans for wheelie bins

“Along with minimisation, they are in the strategy but not given sufficient weight to allay residents’ fears.”

Tory Cllr Steve Davies, NFDC’s cabinet member for environment and coastal services, defended the scheme, telling the A&T it would raise recycling and be flexible for homes unsuited to wheelie bins.

He also warned the Forest faced tough targets to come, saying: “Our recycling rate in 2020/21 was just 34% and ranked us significantly below the national average.

“Our initial target is to meet UK recycling rate targets of 55% by 2025, rising to 65% by 2035.

“We expect to successfully raise our recycling rate and we will look at adjusting our targets as we monitor the results of a new service.”

He added: “We will also survey properties to identify which will need alternatives to wheelie bins, continue to provide our assisted collection service and offer larger or smaller containers to households who need more or less capacity for their waste.”

There will also be “an increased focus on communication and education”, he added.

The ruling cabinet will meet on Wednesday to discuss the waste strategy before it goes to the full council on 11th July for a final decision.

The changes would see each home issued with a seven-litre caddy for kitchen use and a 23-litre bin which would be collected weekly.

Homes would also be supplied with a separate 90-litre reusable sack for paper and card.

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