WHEELIE BINS protest at mock consultation.

WHEELIE BINS

We have consulted members by e-mail and had quite a large number of responses most of which object to the proposal and also to the lack of real consultation.  This is not in the best traditions of Camden or of this particular officer who has been exemplary in previous matters.   We say that the consulation is indequate, unlawful and that the programme should not proceed at this time.

Click below for full letter:

The Inkerman Area Residents Association

4 November 2012

Sam Monck

Assistant Director, Environment & Transport

London Borough of Camden 

By email to sam.monck@camden.gov.uk 

Dear Sam, 

Thank you for your email of 17 October.  Following this, we have consulted our members widely and, as you are aware, there has been considerable concern expressed both about the principle of wheelie bins and about the consultation process.

 Firstly, the consultation.  You say “I don’t think I ever said that there would be consultation on the principle of whether we would be moving to wheelie bins for recycling where we can”.  

What your email of 21 May says is that you are “proposing” this change to councillors, that there will be a feasibility study, and that “we also know that our best resource is Camden’s residents, and that we will need to work with residents to be effective. This means sharing the evidence, showing what has worked …” and “We really need our local groups to work with us on this and to be frank groups like IARA are high on my list of who we need to work with”…. We haven’t done more than begin to sketch out the engagement process, but more details should become available over the summer and we would like to keep you updated on the developments in this area of work”.

What happened between May and October?  Why were residents groups first made aware of this at the stage when a consultation about size and colour was the only issue on offer and letters had already been sent to some individual households (although many affected have still not received a letter)?  You apologize for the fact that these letters went out ahead of consultation to groups, but it is now clear that groups too are only being consulted on the detail, not the substance.  Where was the sharing of the evidence and the invitation for groups to feed back their own experiences of recycling? 

We have now completed the online questionnaire.  However, it is totally unsuitable for groups such as ours as it is directed to individuals and extremely limited.  It seems pointless to have sent it to groups at all. 

You also say “This will be a good step for the environment, we are convinced”.   You have failed to convince local residents, and people are angry.  This is very disappointing, especially given our favorable experience of working with you on the parking scheme.                                                                                                                               

Secondly, the substance.  I attach a selection from among the comments received from residents.  Our main concerns fall into 4 areas: 

1.  The environment.  About 90% of Inkerman Area is a Conservation Area.  People care strongly about the appearance of their streets, and many people have chosen the area at least partly because they like the way it looks.  The scale and appearance of the streetscape is important to us.   Wheelie bins are hideous.  

2.  Size.  The case for larger bins has not been made – or certainly not to us.  A number of residents have pointed out that the present arrangements are adequate for the amount of recycling they generate.  Even many of those who do not object to wheelie bins per se do object to the proposed sizes and say that even the smaller one is too big for bin shelters. 

3.  Selection of streets.  This is not rational.  A walk around the neighbourhood would be enough to persuade you.  Several streets have mixed frontage (front areas or not).  How would this work with wheelie bins? 

4.  Practicalities and cost.  What savings will there be if there have to be different collections for wheelie bins, green boxes and garden/compost waste?  This suggests an increase in traffic and cost rather than a decrease. 

Residents are not opposed to mixed recycling collection; they are opposed to the imposition of wheelie bins without consultation or a proper explanation.  

We think that, given your previous indications, we had a reasonable expectation of a proper consultation and the actions of Camden at this stage may well therefore be unlawful. 

We join with other local groups in calling for this to be put on hold pending a proper justification for the proposal and a genuine consultation. 

Yours sincerely 

Debby Hyams

Chair, IARA  

  Selection from responses:

 Environment

1.  How much does Camden care about the look and feel of a conservation area? Few things are going to change the look of the place more than standing rows of bins, particularly outside houses converted to flats?  

 2.  We strongly object to the imposition of wheelie bins, with no option in the consultation to, at the very least, voice our opinion if we would not prefer wheelie bins. They are large and unsightly, and many front areas do not have adequate capacity to store them (whilst Camden in their wisdom may have decided they think our fronts are suitable, what if we don’t agree?!). The consultation is frankly offensive – what colour wheelie bin do we want? – it is not a real consultation and the (two) wheelie bin options are huge versus really huge. I don’t know if we can stop them, but if they are imposing them they should at least be up front about the fact and stop pretending they are ‘consulting’. If the IARA even can object we wholeheartedly support you. 

3.  While they may be a good idea from a recycling point of view, I think they will be an eyesore as they are too high to go under existing dustbin shelters. Could they get shorter ones? For this reason I was glad to hear that Grafton Road is deemed unsuitable although I received the consultation letter. Presumable unsuitable streets will continue with green boxes. 

4.  It’s a safety hazard to leave bins on the narrow pavement. 

5.  Why is this change being made, what does it cost, who pays, where is the evidence for the assertions made? I particularly laugh at the assertion that introducing these large bins to stand in every front space is going to “reduce the environmental impact” of recycling.  What sort of environmental impact is meant? Certainly not the visual and aesthetic impact in this conservation area. 

Size and colour 

1.  Both sizes of wheelie bin Camden are proposing are much larger than they need to be. Replacing the standard green box for bottle/tins/plastic and blue bag for paper with an enormous wheelie bin seems a bit over the top. Even the smaller bin is over a metre tall. For people who don’t produce much rubbish this is still massive. Camden can surely find bins smaller than that? 

If we must have wheelie bins for recycling the Camden should provide the option of an additional, small, wheelie bin for rubbish. If they don’t do this everyone ends up with a big wheelie bin, a small dustbin, and a smaller brown box. At least if everyone had the same standard things in standard shapes and sizes they could stack more neatly out of the way and it wouldn’t look such a mess. 

2.  My criteria for making the acceptable would be –

  • Bins no taller than 90 cms (would fit behind most front walls and fences).
  • No more than four bins per house.
  • Green or black colour. 

3.  The trouble as I understand it from my friend who has them in her street, is they tend to be enormous and ugly and they are in your front garden all week. I have not noticed that we have any danger from foxes or rubbish spilling all over the place; we are good at recycling . So a big NO from me for Willes Road.
 
I can see the point on estates or large blocks of flats but not in  conservation area where the front  gardens are kept well and the  streets are clean. In Willes Road many of the front gardens have old railings so there would be no place to hide the bins.

3.  As long as they are not too large, I am not opposed. 

4.  Even the smaller size wheelie bin is too high for dustbin shelters! I have responded to the consultation.

5.  My neighbour and I (single occupants) share and rarely fill even ONE green box with our plastic recycling and ONE blue bag with our paper. As you well may surmise, single occupancy, even when coupled with earnest recycling, does not produce a large amount of recyclable debris, so the provision of a larger receptacle (heavier and more time-consuming for the operatives to collect   I assume, thus causing even more traffic holdups in my street) is not going to produce a gain in the amount of “co-mingled” product from us. 

Choice of streets

1.  Why Cathcart Street is considered as suitable whereas Inkerman and Alma Street are not suitable. The Nos 1-8Cathcart Street all have steps leading up to the front door and to leave the Wheelie Bins outside on the platform would make access into the houses very difficult. Also we could not leave the bins in the front area as the gate leading into it would not be wide enough and the council would certainly not lift these bins over the fence due to H&S. If we are expected to bring the bins up from the back of the house, this would be extremely difficult too as they would be too heavy. We also have a number of elderly residents in our street to consider too. Also the flat fronted houses opposite us would have a large wheelie bin right by their front door, making it difficult to get in and out of their houses. I think the whole idea has been rushed through and not thought out at  all.