Public consultation on wheelie bins waste plans slammed as 3% of New Forest residents respond with only two days left
THE district council has been slammed after it was revealed 3% of New Forest residents have so far responded to a controversial waste strategy which could see wheelie bins introduced – and there are only two days left.
With the chance to comment ending on Thursday, both Conservative and Liberal Democrats on the Tory-controlled authority have shared their concerns over the low feedback rates, and questioned if it undermines the proposed measures.
Two Tories – Cllrs Maureen Holding and Alexis McAvoy – hit out at the latest NFDC meeting last night (Monday). They did so in the wake of the consultation being heavily criticised by opposition Liberal Democrats, who claim it asks leading questions.
Agreeing, Cllr McAvoy said the wording of the consultation made it appear as if “all roads lead to wheelie bins”, which had left her “very disappointed”.
But she claimed officers hinted in a private briefing to members that a second consultation with alternatives could happen and she “looked forward” to seeing that.
Cllr Maureen Holding, also a Tory, said many residents had complained as they thought the consultation would be sent via post. She believed NFDC promised in the past it would never introduce wheelie bins and she feared the backlash if it “reneged” on that pledge.
Liberal Democrats, including Cllrs Jack Davies, Malcolm Wade and group leader David Harrison, lined up to criticise the handling of the consultation.
Branding the 3% figure “very disappointing” Cllr David Harrison said he was worried many people were still unaware of the proposals. Many could be “taken completely by surprise” when wheelie bins are introduced outside their front doors, he added.
Cllr Davies said the consultation seemed to be a “box ticking exercise”. He further suggested it being held online hampered the amount of responses – noting people most likely to reply were unlikely to be familiar with having to respond online.
Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Alison Hoare, defended the consultation and slammed other members who criticised it, adding they had “not been at all helpful”.
On the 3% figure she added: “It is not that good but for a council survey, actually, it is a pretty good result.”
The consultation had been widely advertised in newspapers, the council’s social media platforms and on the radio, Cllr Hoare added.
She stressed it was “not a done deal” as the council needed to “benchmark” suggested policies against the service it currently ran to see how the two compared.
But Cllr Hoare then added the council would have to make changes, blaming the government introducing new waste strategy policies which local authorities must follow.
As reported in the A&T, the proposed overhaul of waste collection could involve 90% of homes in the district receiving wheelie bins, and rubbish and recycling collections on alternate weeks.
They also plan a separate weekly food waste pickup, while garden waste could also be stored in wheelie bins and collected fortnightly for a fee. They have been drawn up as the district council has acknowledged its recycling rates are poor compared with other authorities.