The largest petition probably ever presented to the Council signed by 11,000 people calls on the retention of the free garden service. Although the petition was strongly backed by the Borough’s Conservatives it is an issue that cuts across party political allegiances of the public.
Diane Hearne. Chair of the Hartley & District Residents Association spoke to the Council meeting on Monday 7 December. Her main points was that the withdrawal of the free service and the proposed paid collections service is discriminatory against the elderly. She also argued that it would increase car journeys, bonfires and fly-tipping.
It was clear in the debate that the potential negative costs had not been fully thought through. Labour Councillors argued that the cut of the free service was in part due to the need to implement the Government’s cuts to local government funding for Croydon. The Tories rightly countered that Labour had choices they could make. They particularly criticised what they regarded as the pet projects fund which for example paid for the Ambition Festival. In the Tory view Labour had made the wrong choice. Cllr Stuart Collins the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Clean Green Croydon, closed the debate by urging residents to sign up for the paid service and the Tories to encourage them to do so.
Diana Hearne’s statement
‘My name is Diane Hearne, I am Chair of one of the many Residents’ Associations whose residents are deeply concerned about the changes to our green waste collection and have signed the petition which I present to you tonight.
The change in policy to the Green Waste Collection is discriminatory against the many elderly people in the Borough who will find it very difficult to take their own green waste to the local re-cycling centre. They are also discriminated against because of the difficulty they have in registering to pay for the collection, should they wish to do so, as many elderly people are not online and the internet is not a medium they are necessarily comfortable with. Although a telephone number has now been available, those without the internet will have difficulties in obtaining it.
The letter has caused great consternation amongst some of our elderly residents. For example, one Chair of a Residents’ Association received a phone call late at night from a resident who had received the letter and has neither the internet nor a bank card and was very anxious about what she should do next.
I would also mention that, If the collection does continue on a paid for basis, the elderly are again discriminated against. Many of the areas in our Borough are very hilly and pushing the wheelie bins around can be very hard. These are also the people who feel obliged to pay and may be the least able to pay, as they have no other choice.
This collection is particularly appreciated in the south of the borough where we have an ageing population, as recognised in the Croydon local plan, often with larger gardens and the inability to transport the waste themselves. The Council tax paid in the south is often higher and this is a service which is highly valued.
At this time of year, and when the street cleaning has been reduced, it is the residents who collect the leaves, often outside their properties as well, to make the streets safer under foot – and now they will be expected to pay to get rid of these leaves!
It is just not practical to compost the amount of garden waste that will be produced during the period of the green waste collection. If more people then have to transport their own green waste, this will lead to more car journeys and more pollution which I understand this Council is keen to avoid. There are often long queues at the recycling centres which will just be exasperated if the green waste collection ceases.
Another alternative people will choose to get rid of their green waste is to have bonfires which again are very polluting.
I would appeal to the Council to listen to all of their residents who have signed this petition and reverse their decision to cancel the free waste collection.’
As the debate was about the presentation of the petition there was no vote on the issue of whether to change Council policy. The petition will feed into the next stage of the budget cuts setting process.