Motion opposing controversial black bin plans fails
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
Councillors’ attempts to overturn controversial plans for one black bin bag collection every three weeks have failed.
Conservative councillors at Cardiff Council, led by Cllr John Lancaster, put forward a motion calling for a re-think on waste collection proposals at a full council meeting last week.
The motion, which included an amendment from the Liberal Democrats group, also called for the council to oppose a planned separate fee for garden waste collections and the removal of public bins on residential streets.
Cllr Lancaster said: “We recognise some of the reasons for the budget pressures currently being experienced… but if some service areas are under such pressure, surely it is wise to cut your cloth accordingly by pausing spending in other areas while looking at ways of bringing more money in.”
Tory council member, Cllr Calum Davies said he found it “bizarre” that the council was suggesting that black bin bags should be collected once every three weeks.
He added: “I presented a petition last year with scores of signatures from my own ward and more came in after the deadline, too… protesting against such a move.
“It took over two months for a response from the cabinet member who, by reading from the reply, couldn’t have cared less.
“Never mind the bins overflowing outside family homes, never mind that leaseholders and tenants in flats will have to compete for bin space, never mind the increase in vermin.
“Nothing can get in the way of Labour’s vision for a dirty, unkempt city.”
Cardiff Council’s waste collection plans are among a number of proposals being put forward as ways of helping it bridge a £30m budget gap.
They are currently out for public consultation and a final decision on the council’s budget proposals won’t be made until March this year.
Former leader of the Conservatives group at Cardiff Council, Cllr Adrian Robson, said he dreads to think what the streets in the city centre will look like if the waste collection proposals eventually go through.
On the black bin bags proposal, he said: “That has riled many Cardiff residents already.
“I hear the argument… ‘other local authorities do it, so we must’.
“No, no we musn’t. Just because it is good for one authority in North Wales or wherever it happens to be… it doesn’t mean it works for Cardiff.”
It is hoped that reducing black bin bag collections will help encourage recycling among residents, but leader of the Liberal Democrats group at the council, Cllr Rodney Berman, called it a “costing exercise”.
The councillor argued that it would only increase recycling rates by a fraction, adding: “This is really about saving money.”
The Conservatives group said the council should also consider retaining 100% of the non-domestic rates it collects to close its budget gap and fund services.
However, the council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Chris Weaver dismissed this idea as a “fantasy”.
Non-domestic rates, or business rates, in Wales are collected by local authorities and paid into the Welsh Government’s non-domestic rates pool.
The total revenue is then distributed to local authorities across the country.
Cllr Weaver said: “It is simply not possible to close our budget gap of £30m by retaining our business rates without removing a huge chunk of money which is currently distributed to other authorities in Wales.
“It would be wholly irresponsible for Cardiff to ask our funding to be secured on the impoverishment of our neighbouring councils.
“It is just ridiculous.”
The Liberal Democrats amendment to the Conservatives’ motion called for the council to note that its increased borrowing will have a knock-on affect on its revenue budget and frontline services.
Cardiff Council is borrowing tens of millions of pounds to pay for a new 15,000-seat indoor arena which will be built in Butetown.
Cllr Berman said he recognised that the arena is something that would benefit the city, but he added: “The question is can we afford it and can we afford it at this particular juncture?
“I can’t remember a budget consultation quite as depressing as the one you have brought forward this year.”
The council’s cabinet member for investment and development, Cllr Russell Goodway expressed his disappointment at what he called councillors’ “complete failure to understand how public finances work”.
He said: “One of the best ways we can protect public services is we can get people a job, and not just any job, but a well-paid job.
“My job in this portfolio is to convert people who would otherwise be net beneficiaries of the welfare system into net contributors.
“The more people contributing to the system, the more resources there are in the system to deliver those services.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.