Brown Bin Debate

Full brown wheelie bin

One of the big issues to make the news in the last month or so here is Suffolk has been potential changes to brown bin collections.  This is a very difficult issue for councils across Suffolk.  Traditionally, the county council has had the money to provide substantial funds to each district council to help with recycling and composting.  With the pressures bearing down on our finances, the county-wide Suffolk Waste Partnership has agreed to consider changes to the policy.

In short, the county is planning to reduce its funding to District and Borough Councils next year, and so in turn, they are considering whether to continue with a free brown-bin service, or whether to move to a subscription service, while encouraging more residents to manage their own waste through home composting.

Between us, the councils in Suffolk spend around £6million a year collecting and treating garden waste (which in some areas includes food waste).  If Suffolk’s councils collectively decide to adopt this approach, the saving will be around £2million a year.  At the same time, each local council can decide to retain a universal free service to all residents should they so choose.

A few Fridays ago I agreed to go on Mark Murphy’s Show on BBC Radio Suffolk to talk about the issue, it was meant to be a short spot but in explaining what is happening and taking calls it lasted almost an hour but at the end of it hopefully listeners were better informed as to their choices and perhaps the thinking behind the decisions that Councils and Suffolk Waste Partnership have and are making.

You’ll no doubt be hearing more about this as each District and Borough Council make their decision to charge or not to charge, but at a time where we are being forced to radically cut our costs, there are difficult decisions like this which have to be made.

#WeAreListening events around the county

2015_07_18 WeAreListening - HaverhilThere’s nothing like local government to confound expectations!  Just when the expectation and, indeed, hope, is that things will start to quieten down as we move through the summer months, and parliament has its long summer recess, we actually find that things are as busy as ever.

From my own perspective, I’ve held the first five  of my ‘listening’ events, where I spend a Saturday morning, once a fortnight, visiting a town centre somewhere in Suffolk to speak to residents and visitors, answer their questions and take away a long list of actions to be completed.

These first roadshows have been in Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Haverhill, Felixstowe and Stowmarket so I’ve zig-zagged across the county over the last couple of months and met a great number of the local people. I may be Suffolk born and bred, and be very familiar with many parts of our wonderful county, but there is no substitute for physically getting out there and meeting the different communities across the county, speaking to residents who care passionately about Suffolk. I want to hear about the things that are close to people’s hearts, to find out what issues are at the top of their agenda and what they want to see happening locally.  The visits will be continuing through what is left of our summer and into the autumn, with Ipswich the next on 5th September. For the itinerary please have a click to http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/wearelistening and to follow on Twitter its #WeAreListening

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