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Friday, 11 September 2009

Brent Liberal Democrats and FREE Bulky Waste collection

One of the Brent Liberal Democrats' broken promises I haven't got round to mentioning yet is their abolition of the £25 charge for collecting bulky household waste like old sofas and so on. Under Labour, Brent Council would collect up to five items per collection three times a year. At a Council meeting a little while ago, I read out a Liberal Democrat leaflet (produced before the election naturally) urging residents to use the free collection service "before the Conservatives make you pay". The Liberal Democrat spokesman was flummoxed in reply.

The case against the charge is that many people, rather than going through the cost and bureaucracy of pre-paying for a booked collection, will dump the items in a nearby street. That is not an attractive fact about human nature, but nonetheless it is a true one. I remember being told during the Queens Park by election in 2008 that one old chair was regularly moved from street to street because people thought the Council would charge them to remove it. In fact, anything dumped in the street is moved by the Council for free to keep the Highway clear.

It actually costs the Council more to take rubbish off the street because rubbish found in the street is judged "contaminated" and has to be sent to landfill, where the Council is charged more for its disposal. Rubbish collected direct from a household can be recycled.

To make matters even worse, the charge did not even yield the predicted income. The revenue was supposed to be £275,000 in the first year. In fact it was £53,000. Could this be because the number of people asking for special collections fell by two thirds as soon as the Liberal Democrats introduced the charge?

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