By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
GREEN bin inspections by special ‘advisors’ in North Kirklees should be stopped, says a Cleckheaton politician.
And bins confiscated from residents – more than 1,300 at the last count – should be returned to homeowners as part of a ‘bin amnesty’.
Liberal Democrats say the roll-out of a new hardline policy aimed at driving up recycling rates has backfired, with the end result being counter-productive, costly and clumsy.
Lib Dem group leader Coun John Lawson (Cleckheaton) says the introduction of the £80,000 scheme, for which 12 advisors have been hired to check the contents of residents’ bins, has been unnecessarily confrontational.
He has called on Labour-run Kirklees Council to call a halt to the controversial programme, which began in North Kirklees this week.
“We need a rethink,” he said. “The policy is costly, clumsy and authoritarian. There needs to be more carrot and less stick.
“Year-on-year the council has failed to keep its recycling rates anywhere near the national average. The public is now paying the price and this isn’t fair.”
He added that people “want to recycle to the best of their ability” but have often received a lack of information or even conflicting information about the rules and limits of what can be recycled.
He added: “Furthermore, bins in public spaces are impossible for owners to control what goes into them.”
The council launched its crackdown on April 1. It was designed to encourage residents to recycle better and to educate people as to what can and cannot be put in a green bin.
Residents who put the wrong types of waste in their bin are issued with a yellow warning sticker. If their bin is still contaminated on the next fortnightly collection it is impounded.
It can be returned after six months – but only if they apply.
Between April 1 and mid-May, the council seized 1,341 green bins across the south of the district.
The council has reported some success with the project. The borough is now recycling 45-85 additional tonnes every week in Huddersfield – roughly equivalent to 17 full bin lorries.
But there have been incidents involving bin crews and advisors, including a bin wagon being blockaded by angry residents and an advisor having a warning sticker stuck to her head.
The incidents prompted the council to urge members of the public not to abuse staff.
Coun Lawson said the rising number of altercations between home owners and council refuse staff indicated that the bin inspection policy is confrontational.
He added that the controversial nature of the scheme and the negative response from the public suggests that it may have been counter-productive in engaging Kirklees’ residents in the recycling process and increasing recycling rates.
He has now called for “a radically different approach” to improve recycling rates, including making information about what can and can’t be recycled more accessible to the public.
Kirklees Council declined to comment.