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NFDC backs 2024 wheelie bin launch plan

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WHEELIE bin waste collections will be introduced to the New Forest from 2024 after calls for a referendum on the issue were defeated.

The new waste and recycling strategy, which was ratified at a full meeting of New Forest District Council on Monday, will see the replacement of rubbish sacks with wheelie bins for 90% of households across the district.

General waste and recycling collections will switch to an alternate fortnightly service.

Wheelie bins will be rolled out in 2024
Wheelie bins will be rolled out in 2024

The scheme was backed by the ruling Conservative cabinet last week and went before the full council for the final sign-off – sparking criticisms from opposition Liberal Democrats.

Lib Dem Cllr David Harrison claimed the Tory administration was “more split” on the issue of wheelie bins than on who should be the next Tory leader.

Submitting an amendment, Cllr Harrison said a district-wide referendum should be called to decide the issue.

He declared: “Voting for this amendment let you all off the hook – those who support the policy, those who have publicly declared against, and those who have delivered election leaflets promising a referendum. Let the people decide.”

Seconding the amendment, Cllr Jack Davis backed a referendum, describing waste collections as a “fundamental change” to the biggest service NFDC provides to the public.

He added: “It’s an important issue and I believe the people should have a say.”

Cllr David Harrison
Cllr David Harrison

However, Cllr Jeremy Heron said a referendum would be “more divisive than successful” and raised concerns about the huge costs involved.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Malcolm Wade described NFDC’s recycling record as “a dog’s breakfast” and suggested the authority now needed a radical solution.

He claimed while parts of the waste strategy were good, “waste minimisation is poor – expecting to give people a small bin and there won’t be any side waste. That’s really naïve”.

Tory Cllr Alexis McAvoy described wheelie bins as “an abomination” but added: “Is this waste strategy the answer?

"Only time will tell – but a referendum costing the people of the New Forest £250,000 in times of hardship is not the answer.”

Fellow Tory Cllr Allan Glass pointed out that the waste strategy had been drawn up by a cross-party working group, adding that there had been a lot of “scaremongering”.

He said: “Not everyone has to have a wheelie bin. If you live on the fourth floor of a tower block you don’t have a wheelie bin. If you’re badly disabled you don’t have a wheelie bin.”

Describing a referendum as an “abrogation” of the duty as councillors, Tory Cllr Andrew Gossage argued wheelie bins were also a better solution for the council waste collection staff.

Cllr Malcolm Wade
Cllr Malcolm Wade

Currently the New Forest is the only district in Hampshire which does not operate a wheelie bin system, and is one of the worst performing in England for recycling, being ranked 286th out of 345 councils in 2018/19.

Its hoped that the new strategy will improve recycling rates, with each home being issued with seven-litre and 23-litre caddies for food waste, which will be collected weekly, along with an additional 90-litre reusable sack for paper and card.

The proposed referendum was voted down by the Tory majority, as was a second amendment from Cllr Mahmoud Kangarani to increase recycling targets to 65%, increasing to 70% by 2030.

NFDC has now promised a “detailed communication plan” for residents about the scheme’s roll-out ahead of its 2024 introduction.

Cllr Steve Davies, the cabinet member for environment and coastal services, said the authority would undertake a “comprehensive survey” to identify which properties are not suitable for wheelie bins.

It is currently estimated this will apply to around 10%, of households which is around 8,000 dwellings.

He pledged: “We’ll certainly continue to offer help to those who need it. We already have a lot of assisted collections with the demographic of the area, and we will even supply larger bins to larger families, if that is requested.”

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