In light of the results of the local election and the formation of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat joint administration, City of York Council was asked to make some amendments to the current budget. Last Thursday I voted against the proposed alterations for different reasons. But one of the main reasons was that the very clearly political budget amendments aimed to fund and fulfil the Lib Dem election promise to ensure that there will be no charges for green bin collections. This election stunt will now cost us £1,064,000 every year, while cuts elsewhere take money away from the most vulnerable residents. After our very vocal objection to the proposal, questions have been raised as to why the Green Party is against green bins.
I am not against green bins in general but believe that a green waste policy must go much wider than to concentrate over one million pounds on the status quo of green bin collection, which is currently not a frontline service for all citizens across the city. During the council meeting I mentioned particularly Mickelgate ward and Guidhall ward where 75% and 89% respectively have no green bins. Additionally there are more ways of collecting green waste in addition to the traditional green bins. Money could be spent on other systems such as food bins, green boxes or neighbourhood green skips to enable more residents to benefit from York’s green waste system.
Under the current arrangements, in order to collect garden waste CYC waste management essentially needs vehicle access for their standard refuse collection vehicles (RCV), the property needs to be able to store and present a wheeled bin and it also needs to have a garden. But even if a property fulfils these conditions (and we know that there are properties across the city which meet these criteria and residents would welcome a collection of garden waste) all the green waste collection rounds are at full capacity now. With the budget amendment we are funding the status quo and therefore we are not in a position to add any more properties onto the rounds with the resources CYC waste management have currently got. It goes without saying that there is no budgetary room for alternative green waste initiatives for the areas of the city with a high quota of properties which do not fulfil the conditions.
Last but not least, the future of green waste collection in York is in question anyway. Last year City of York Council approved a 25-year waste contract with Amey Cespa for the Allerton Park incinerator project. The project that the Green Party and Green councillors opposed represents a cost of £254 million over 25 years and is currently under construction. This incinerator facility is significantly oversized and the council may face the decision in the future to increase the taxpayer subsidy or start burning green waste to fulfil the economically sustainable amount of waste.