Why wheeled bins are needed

By on 05/12/2012 in Blog, Cllr McKay

The following is a piece written by Cllr James McKay, outling the reasons why wheeled bins are needed in Birmingham – after the Government recently announced that the city was to receive £29million as part of a project to protect weekly waste collections.

Cllr James McKay

Cllr James McKay

The article first appeared in the Birmingham Mail today (December 5).

We've got a problem with rubbish in Birmingham.  Our system doesn't work anymore, and costs too much to run.  We need a change.

Birmingham has won cash from Government to protect weekly bin collections.  This is new money, not money we spend on vital services.

The Government cash keeps our weekly collections, and lots more too.  We need to spend £10m in our depot infrastructure.  We need new lorries.  This Government cash lets us do these things.

We'll bring in weekly recycling in the highest demand areas of the City, as well as rolling out a recycling incentive scheme for everyone.  The more we recycle, the more we can sell on - a better deal for residents.

The big change, of course, is the wheeled bin system.

We'll be talking to residents shortly about the best way to roll out the scheme.  The basic model is 3 bins: recycling (glass, plastics, paper), garden waste, and residual waste (previously black bag waste).  But this won't be one size fits all.  Households come in all shapes and sizes.

We know we need to look again where there are major problems with rear access, or where the physical features of the homes make such bins impractical.  Also, assisted collections where people are unable to manage their bins will carry on.

We envisage we will start the roll out in Spring 2013, once we've finished the consultation.

Let's be clear.  We cannot go on as we are.  We cannot afford it any more, not in these tough times.

The new system lets us protect weekly bin collections and drive up recycling rates, while stopping the mess and litter caused by the black bag system. We must also remember that 80 per cent of councils – including most big cities -  nationally have wheeled bin schemes that work without any problems. This is not a radical, unproven idea.

It's a good deal for Birmingham, which is why Government has given us the cash to do it.

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  1. Cllr Jon Hunt says:

    And here is the case against published also in the Evening Mail today from myself:

    There’s widespread hostility to having wheelie bins in Birmingham with good reason.

    For a start there’ll probably be a few backdoor charges. Some districts charge more than £40 to replace a vandalised wheelie-bin. And three wheelie-bins per household? That’s a lot to manage for many people.

    In my own ward of Perry Barr there’s overwhelming opposition.

    It’s no surprise. Most of the ward sits on the folds of a hillside that tumbles from Barr Beacon to the Tame River.

    Many residents access their homes by steep flights of steps or equally steep drives. And in the south we have terraced properties with front doors that open straight onto the street.

    Why can’t Birmingham manage wheelie bins when other areas seem to? We don’t have many new housing estates like Telford or Tamworth.

    More than a third of our housing dates from the pre-war years, when thousands of functional homes with quite narrow frontages were built within newly-widened city boundaries. As a city of three rivers, we are hillier than is generally appreciated.

    These are the worst possible properties to manage three wheelie bins. Even many residents with level front drives wonder where they will keep them.

    Labour claims wheelie-bins will save money. Councils with wheelie-bins save money by axing weekly collections. On their own, wheelie-bins are not cheaper.

    It’s likely that more staff will be needed, not less. In areas with these bins, collection crews often simply open them and take out binbags rather than taking time to load them onto their vehicles’ cumbersome machinery.

    Perhaps that’s a clue. We are saying the council must not impose bins on residents who cannot manage them. Nor should bins line our city’s pavements.

    By all means give bins to those residents who can manage them and want them. Or let residents store binbags in them. But this needs to be done neighbourhood by neighbourhood, to avoid a massive muddle

  2. jg says:

    I live on a street with steep drives, narrow roads and grass verges. The cars park on the grass verges as the street is so narrow. I have back problems, my husband is disabled. I cannot ‘lug’ a bin up and down the drive. The Refuse Collector won’t do it for me and there is nowhere to put the bin unless I leave it on the pavement looking an unsightly mess, blocking peoples access to the pavement – is this what we call progress? Year’s ago, the Refuse collector ALWAYS collected and returned the bin to the location where it was stored. In my case it used to be down an entry and at the back of my garden. I never had a problem and that was their job. That was at the time when Common Sense was applied