AM asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Waste Services:
If you are thinking of charging for the bulky waste collection, have you considered that this will lead to more people dumping items on street corners? This is already a problem and will only get worse. Also only having one tip for the whole of Nottingham will not work if the amount of people bringing bulky waste increases. Do you think people can afford to pay for a collection or even hire a van to go to the tip in today’s current climate?
In the absence of Councillor Longford, Councillor Mellen replied as follows:
Thank you Lord Mayor and, as you say, there are a number of questions today addressed to Portfolio Holders who are not here to answer, so you will hear my voice a little bit more than usual I’m afraid.
Can I think the citizen for their question. The Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 allow local authorities to charge for items that do not fit into household bins. The collection of bulky waste is discretionary for local authorities, and many councils provide such a service and almost all choose to charge a fee to recover some of the costs. Only a handful of councils across the UK offer free bulky waste collections for some or all residents, those being Hillingdon, Hyndburn, Liverpool and Tower Hamlets and Redbridge; and until recently we offered all collections for free.
Fly- tipping is a national problem and has increased across the Country. In the last 2 years there have been 21,179 fly-tips reported to Nottingham City Council, many of which have been investigated by our Community Protection Officers in an effort to identify the perpetrator. Unfortunately, fly-tipping is often a crime of stealth and, despite investigations using CCTV cameras, door to door enquires, or by seeking information from within the fly-tip, the number of cases that are brought to justice is relatively small. Evidence shows that the lockdown triggered by the pandemic lead to increased consumption by households and to big changes in the amount of waste and recycling. This has put an additional pressure on the waste management systems in every city and town across the UK. The increase in consumption were initially due to purchasing items in bulk or panic buying and then by many citizens being forced or choosing to stay at home for their work and make online purchases which come with large amounts of packaging. Consequently, more domestic waste was generated and this trend continues today. This has put increased pressure upon waste collection systems across the Country, and it was decided when the Council resumed white goods collection after Covid lockdown in April 2021 it would restart as a chargeable service. Since the resumption we have seen a reduction in fly-tipped fridges, probably because many white goods suppliers now take away old items. Some people have predicted that introducing a collection fee for other bulky waste items will lead to more frequent fly tipping. However, there is very little reliable evidence to support this. The Local Government Association has found no direct links between charging for a bulky waste service and fly-tipping and one of the authorities which does not charge for collections has the highest rates of fly-tipping in the Country.
Because of our sensible pricing proposal and increased opportunities offered at the point of booking to dispose of items via a third party for free, it is believed that the new charging policy will not lead to an increase in fly-tips on our streets, but of course we will need to monitor that carefully. Given that much of the material collected as bulky waste could be re-purposed or re-used, the introduction of a collection charge could be seen as a more sustainable approach to waste management by discouraging the prevailing throwaway culture and encouraging residents to consider a more sustained method of disposal of these items which others may find a beneficial use for. It is estimated that 30% of bulky waste collected nationally is suitable for re-use and our website already encourages people to consider contacting the British Heart Foundation or Freecycle as alternative means of disposing of items and there are other agencies, of course, that do that. We will develop other options over time to maximise the circular economy within the City to support our plans to be carbon neutral by 2028. We have made provision for the most vulnerable in our communities to still have access to a limited free collection service, and for others that can afford to replace furniture and carpets and other electrical goods it is not unreasonable for them to contribute to the cost of managing their old and unwanted items.
CA asked the following question of the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Schools:
Please could the Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Schools explain why Nottingham City Council is proposing to close three libraries in the City, namely Aspley, Basford and Radford/ Lenton and how this devastating action can be avoided?
Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark responded as
Thank you Lord Mayor and can I thank the citizen for the question. Firstly, as Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Schools, I want to say I recognise the important work that Nottingham Libraries play in our communities. Our libraries continue to provide access to learning and resources, offer safe and welcoming spaces for all our residents to help develop themselves and provide essential access to a free public computers and wifi network so that people can view information online and engage in services that can be only engaged with digitally. I am, and remain, a strong supporter of Nottingham libraries’ work. In saying that, I do think it is important that we recognise the way people are using our libraries has changed: there have been decreases in local books issued and footfall mirrors national trends and a greater number of people want to access information online.
Expectations of what people want to see in its library provision is changing and it is important that we think about our future service needs and what represents best value. Like many other councils, Nottingham City Council has faced enormous reductions in its funding and has seen increased costs around the delivery of services, especially in adult social care. As a Council we are obliged legally to balance our books and deliver our services in the budget we have available. This has meant we have had to look at taking some very difficult decisions. In order to achieve these savings a range of proposals around efficiencies were looked at and, unfortunately, includes looking at proposals for reductions in the numbers of libraries operating. At this stage, I want to emphasise that no decisions have yet been made around any closures. Up until the 24April 2022 we are undertaking a consultation exercise to seek people’s views around the proposals for savings, plus to hear and explore alternative options that people might suggest on ways that we could run the services and facilitate them to be run differently so that services minimise the impact of loss to residents. So let us know your thoughts. If you would like to have your say please complete the online survey or visit your local libraries for a paper copy. Also look out for consultation events over this period. So, what I am actually saying is that there is no decision currently made as yet because we have to wait until consultation completes on the 24 April. Thank you Lord Mayor.