Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bin collection changes - consultation concerns

Earlier this year, I opposed the SNP administration's policy of scrapping weekly general waste bin collections.   Although supportive of improved recycling opportunities for residents, I am concerned at the possible adverse effects of the move to fortnightly-only general waste collections - particularly in flats and multiple-occupied properties.

A large part of the West End, largely west of Peddie Street, is in Phase 1 of the new arrangements that will be mainly introduced next March.

The Environment Director last week updated councillors as follows :

"At present we are on-course to introduce these new services to our Phase 1 areas in March 2015, with affected residents due to receive full information on the changes early in the new year. This will include the delivery of leaflets and collection calendars, as well as visits from staff to offer information and advice, plus ongoing engagement activities at local residents groups, community organisations and tenants associations. Staff within the department have been busy attending many of these group meetings throughout the last few months, advising residents of the planned changes and answering any questions they may have. Consultation with residents of some flatted properties has also been undertaken during the last few months and the feedback we have had has informed our decisions regarding they type and location of bins at these properties.

Ahead of the March rollout, we will be introducing these new recycling services to a small number of flatted properties in both of the Phase 1 areas during November 2014. The flats have already undergone a full assessment and where required detailed consultation with residents has taken lace. and so are ready for implementation of these new services now. This small scale early action within these flatted properties in November will enable us to test our methodologies ahead of the main rollout in March, as well as providing further scope for engagement and consultation with residents."

I asked for details of the early (November 2014) Phase 1 West End households and was further updated follows :

"Please now see below for full details of the flatted properties in your ward which will receive their waste & recycling service changes this month, ahead of the full Phase 1 introduction in March of next year.

- Pasteur Lane (no's 1-30)
- Clayhills Drive (no's 48-56, 60-72, 74-82 - even)

These properties will receive a number of communal containers, stored in central locations, for the collection of residual waste and the recycling of food waste, mixed recyclate (paper, card, metals, plastics), and mixed glass. In addition, an internal kitchen caddy for the collection of food waste will be provided to every householder - as well as a supply of compostable liners. All residents will receive a full information leaflet, advising on the use of the new service - this will be hand-delivered by a member of staff who will make every effort to meet residents face-to-face to offer information and advice as well as answering any questions they may have. 

Containers will be delivered during w/c 24th November, with first collections taking place during w/c 1st December.    Staff within the department will be undertaking engagement activities specific to these particular properties in the run up to the introduction of their new services, and will thereafter be monitoring the performance of the new services, promoting and encouraging their use amongst residents were necessary.

At present no formal consultation with residents has taken place with regard to the forthcoming changes in November. However, the (council's) Business Process Team Leader ... has discussed the changes to Pasteur Lane in detail with  the NHS property management representative responsible for this area, who advised of the new location for the communal eurobins.

The intention is not to consult with the affected residents in these areas on this occasion as the changes are considered relatively straight forward with minimal disruption to waste/recycling presentation aspect of the service, but rather to inform and engage with residents on how the new services will affect them, how to use them and where to get further information. To that end, the team and I will be engaging with residents on a 1-to-1 basis by visiting each property which is set to receive these new services in November and advise of the forthcoming changes, answer any queries & provide further information via the delivery of a detailed service information leaflet. Noting your earlier point regarding the difficulty of making contact with residents in Pasteur Lane, I can confirm that our staff will be undertaking their doorstep engagement activities at a variety of days & times in order to ensure that as many residents as possible are reached, regardless of their availability or working pattern. 

Going forward, the requirement for formal consultation will be assessed on a property by property basis and will only be required where input from residents is required to assist in the selection of the appropriate service methodology. 

Finally, to answer your query regarding Simpson Avenue & Lister Place, these were not included in the November rollout as we deliberately selected small-scale, discrete areas from both the West End & Broughty Ferry which could be accommodated within the existing route framework, hence the inclusion of additional streets will not be logistically possible at this time."

I have some concerns about the lack of consultation and have replied to the Environment Department as follows :

"Whilst I welcome the efforts to make contact with residents in Pasteur Lane, I would comment (that) the crystal-clear commitment given at committee and by the Director to me was that there would be full consultation with affected residents as changes to services are rolled-out.   The suggestion that consultation “only be required where input from residents is required” falls very much short of that and is a rather worrying retrenchment.   Who decides which residents are consulted and which are not?   You do.    

Can I please have an explanation for this?   The suggestion that consultation “only be required where input from residents is required” was absolutely NOT the commitment given to Environment Committee."