Service changes to make waste management savings

A number of changes to waste collection services have been announced by Birmingham City Council in its 2013/14 budget following central government cuts to the authority’s finances.

For the 2013/14 financial year the council’s overall savings requirement is £102million. Of this, £6.57million relates to waste services and includes:

Bulky waste: providing households with ONE free collection per year (maximum 6 items). For each subsequent collection (maximum 6 items), there will be a charge of £25 per collection. This compares to the existing system of 3 free collections per year, with a maximum of 6 items per collection. The new charge is in line with fees charged by other councils (that typically range from £15 to £44).

Special street collections: A city-wide subsidy is being dropped, meaning that individual districts will have to use their own budgets if they wish to continue this service, which is a service uncommon amongst local authorities. These collections are a service that gives residents in an area a fixed day(s) beyond regular bin collection dates on which to put out additional bulky waste items out, to be collected by the council at no cost to the households taking advantage.

The provision of black and green sacks: The council spends £1million per year issuing one sack per week to households. Many residents already buy their own waste sacks. Residents will now be required to provide all of their own sacks from April 1, ahead of the council plan to roll out wheelie bins at a later date.

Green waste collections: In line with many other local authorities, the council will introduce a chargeable service from February/March 2014. This will be an optional service, and those wishing to take advantage will be given a free 240-litre wheeled bin. The annual collection charge, to be paid in advance, will be £35. Those not wishing to take up the service will have the option of buying a composter, at cost, via the council’s website. Fees charged by other councils who provide this service generally range from £18 to £56.

In addition to this, other measures are set to be introduced to meet the budget challenge caused by the cuts. They include:

City centre street cleansing: There will be a reduction in the overall level of cleaning – but there will be no compulsory redundancies. However the council is introducing larger capacity bins, fitted with a compactor to reduce emptying frequencies, and more automated technology to increase productivity.

Mechanical sweeping: The number of large mechanical sweepers that clear main arterial routes and some residential roads will be reduced from 20 to 15. This will not lead to compulsory redundancies but there will be a reduction in the level of service offered.

Your City Your Birmingham: It is proposed to discontinue these enhanced services (services provided over and above the standard service) and can relate to environmental crime such as fly tipping, fly posting, littering and dog fouling etc.

Cllr James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, said: “Cuts to the services that help make our city a cleaner and greener place are not something that sit easy with me.

“However, given that the controllable part of the council’s budget – which we can choose to prioritise – will be halved by 2017, we are simply left with little or no option but to consider some major changes to our waste management service.

“What we have done is come up with a package that tries to minimise the impact felt by citizens, embracing innovation and modern ways of working where possible – such as with the introduction of wheelie bins, to replace a system that is firmly stuck in the last century.

“But we want to be open and transparent about some of the less palatable changes helping up meet our financial challenge – that is why we are giving as much notice as possible of our intention to introduce fees and reduce the level of services where applicable.”

Ends

For more media information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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