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Up to £62m of taxpayers' cash for new waste contract

Up to £62m of taxpayers' cash for new waste contract

Published by Emma Carton at 10:24am 11th September 2019. (Updated at 11:40pm 11th September 2019)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse.

Cornwall Council has agreed to spend up to £62 million of taxpayers' money on new rubbish trucks and facilities for the council's new waste and recycling collection service.

The council is currently negotiating a new contract for the service which will start in April 2020.

As part of the contract the council is looking to change rubbish and recycling collections so that black bag waste is collected fortnightly and recycling and food waste is collected weekly. 

The changes to the service will not start until June 2021.

On Tuesday, full council backed moves to increase the council's capital programme by up to £62m which will be used to buy a new fleet of vehicles which will be leased to the new operator of the service.

The money will also be used to improve processing facilities across Cornwall for recycling and disposing of waste.

However, despite agreeing the money needed for the vehicles and facilities some councillors claimed that people in Cornwall were not happy about having the collection service changed.

Paul Wills, independent councillor for St Columb Major, said he had been against the changes since 2017.

He said that with the council reporting that 80% of Cornwall residents were satisfied with the waste and recycling service there was no desire to change:

"The majority of people out there don't want to see any change. They want to continue to put out their recycling once a fortnight and black bags picked up once a week".

Cllr Wills lambasted Cabinet member Rob Nolan for stating publicly that any waste which was not placed inside provided wheelie bins or seagull proof sacks would not be collected:

"I can't wait to see the streets of our beloved county absolutely strewn with people's rubbish as it has been left behind".

Cllr Wills also claimed that the responsibility of cleaning up left behind rubbish could fall on parish and town councils which would have to increase their council tax to pay for it.

The independent councillor also hit out at the fact that the council was implementing the changes based on a proven system in Wales which has seen recycling rates increase considerably.

"The system works but we need to spend millions to change it all so we can be the same as Wales. 

"If I want to be the same as Wales I will go and live in Wales, but I want to live in Cornwall.

"We are being barged into this change. 

"We are being told that it is the best thing that could happen. It is not the best thing that can happen, the best thing that can happen is to keep the system as it is now".

Councillor Paul Wills

Conservative councillor Stephen Rushworth said he agreed with Cllr Wills and claimed that people in his ward of St Issey and St Tudy are “horrified” by the planned changes.

Mebyon Kernow councillor Andrew Long said that more needed to be done to ensure that all new homes built in Cornwall were built with enough storage for people to store their waste and recycling. 

He urged the council's waste department to work with the planning department to ensure that happens.

Independent councillor Mark Kaczmarek said the change to fortnightly black bag collection would result in an increase in people going to household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) to dispose of waste.

He said the council should make a pledge not to close any HWRCs and also to build more for communities across Cornwall.

Cllr Nolan said he welcomed the opening of a new HWRC in Truro on Wednesday and the council would be aiming to have centres close to the most populated areas. However could not promise that none would close.

Councillors also asked whether wheelie bins that had already been issued in the former Penwith District Council area would continue to be used.

Cllr Nolan said they were 20 years old and would be collected and disposed of, but did say residents could keep them if they want to:

"I am confident that when we get going (with the new collection service) it will work well and people will get used to it".

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