Waste and recycling collections: the political perils

by Stephen Tall on March 2, 2009

Today’s Financial Times reports on the electoral situation at Waverley council, where the Lib Dem group was reduced from 27 seats to three in the 2007 local elections after introducing fortnightly waste collections to boost recycling rates. It also notes the problems suffered by Labour in Telford, Shropshire and Blackburn, and by the Conservatives in North Lincolnshire, for the same reasons.

Celia Savage, one of the surviving Lib Dem councillors in Waverley, claims the Tories ruthlessly exploited the issue of fortnightly bin collections in the run-up to the poll. Stories abounded of stinking garbage piling up in people’s gardens while queues of cars snaked for miles from the local rubbish tip.

“What made it worse was that it was a hot summer, people complained that their bags were getting very smelly,” admits Mrs Savage. “But the issue was exaggerated. If the timing had been different things could have settled down and people would have got used to it.”

So, have the people of Waverley had their weekly collections restored as a result of voting out the Lib Dems? No – as the FT reports, “The Tories, who now run Waverley council, have kept the fortnightly waste collection.”