Eastbourne councillors clash over change in bin collections

Eastbourne councillors have clashed over the town’s recently-introduced fortnightly waste and recycling collections.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:03 pm

Eastbourne councillors have clashed over the town’s recently-introduced fortnightly waste and recycling collections.

The changes came into force April 12, and since then the council said the feedback has been ‘fantastic’..

But a different view was raised by Conservative group leader Robert Smart, who brought up the topic at the authority’s annual full council meeting, held on May 19 in the Welcome Building.

Cllr Smart said the public consultation held around the changes was ‘one of the biggest public consultations this council has ever held’ and said the ‘driving force’ of the proposals was financial.

Despite this, he said the costs have in fact ‘gone up by £250,000 a year’ and the changes have only reduced Eastbourne’s collection truck numbers by two – something he said was ‘reasonably small’.

He also said that in terms of the consultation feedback, 82 per cent of respondents said their recycling bins were full on collection and 50 per cent said their waste bins were full on collection.

Cllr Smart said, “I would suggest to you that effectively, the response to that is not necessarily to actually decrease the capacity for the collection of waste which is the way it has been put across.”

Eastbourne bins

These points were disputed by Liberal Democrat cabinet member Jonathan Dow, however, who said to claim the reasons were financial was ‘totally inaccurate’.

He said, “The driving force to move to alternate weekly was evidence based off the fact that 73 per cent of authorities around the county do alternate weekly and increase their recycling rates as a result which is exactly the reason we did it.

“The second reason was to reduce the carbon footprint of the trucks that go around town because we’re reducing the routes, and the third reason is the financial one. But the driving force was to increase recycling rates.”

In response to Cllr Smart’s comment about the costs going up, Cllr Dow said, “I don’t know where you’ve got the fact that the costs for the waste service have gone up. The savings in year one to go to alternate weekly were £202,000 and year two and onwards to £246,000 per year, moving forward.”

He also said residents can apply for a second bin for recycling if needed to increase their individual recycling capacity.

Eastbourne council leaders approved the move to fortnightly collections at a meeting in February.

At that meeting cabinet member for place services Colin Swansborough said, “There are lots and lots of good reasons for this. We went out to consultation over it and had a large response over it, but I think most people in the town are quite happy with the way in which it is anticipated it will run.

Cllr Swansborough pointed out Wealden District Council has been doing fortnightly collections for years.

According to meeting papers at the time, the change would be expected to save the council £206,000 in the first year, rising to £249,000 in following years.

It is also expected to see the town’s recycling rate increase and reduce carbon emissions.