cllr mckay

Cllr McKay’s response to our open letter…

Thank you for your letter of 28th February.

I absolutely agree that the views of residents need to be taken into account when decisions are made over how the wheelie bin scheme will operate.  As you may know, we have now started a City-wide consultation with residents around the best way to roll out the wheelie bin scheme.  This will involve an open-access online questionnaire with paper copies available in libraries and neighbourhood offices, and consultation with specific groups, such as tenants, conservation areas, and disability organisations. The survey can be found here: www.opinionresearch.co.uk/birminghamwheeliebins

Based on experience in other local authorities, we estimate that 90-95% of households will be able to use wheelie bins.  The consultation process will help us to understand where exceptions need to be made.  We have already said that the sort of exceptions that we would need to think about include: major problems with rear access; and where the physical features of the homes make such bins impractical.  Also, we will be continuing with assisted collections where people are unable to manage their bins. The results of the consultation will give us much better understanding of these issues, but the central message to send out is that we are very aware that one size does not fit all.

The City-wide consultation will let us shape our policies for the roll-out.  However, this will need to be translated to the household level, prior to roll-out, in every neighbourhood in the City.  That is why we will assess the suitability of every property prior to roll-out, and then write to every householder, opening up the opportunity for a further conversation around suitability.  This will happen before bins are delivered to households.

With respect to the proposed charges for green waste collection, this needs to be set in the context of the scale of the budget cuts the City is facing.  We were forced to cut more than £100m from the budget last month, with hundreds of millions more to come in future years.  If Birmingham only faced the same reductions per head of population as everywhere else, with the pain equally shared across the country, the cuts to services would be far less severe.  But the Government has not chosen to apply this logic, and the people of Birmingham will see their services heavily impacted as a result.

What that inevitably means is that many services in Birmingham will have to either be completely transformed, or stopped altogether.  The garden waste collection service began in 2001 in Birmingham, and was fully rolled out by 2007. However, we can no longer afford to run the service as it currently stands.  At the moment it operates at a large subsidy, and the changes we are introducing will move it towards a cost-recovery basis.  But I do of course totally agree with the general point, these cuts will have consequences, and that is what we are saying again and again to Government.

With all best wishes,

Cllr James McKay
Harborne ward
Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City