Wokingham Borough Council’s Liberal Democrat-led coalition administration has refused to commit to keeping a long-standing policy of weekly bin collection, even if residents say they want it.
In response to a question from Conservative councillor Norman Jorgensen at an Executive meeting on 30th June, the responsible coalition Executive Member would not guarantee that bins would continue to be collected weekly.
After the meeting, the Council’s Conservative Opposition expressed surprise that the ruling coalition group appeared reluctant to maintain a policy operated for 20 years by the Conservatives.
Cllr Norman Jorgensen had submitted a question to the ruling Executive asking whether the administration would commit to keeping weekly bin collection.
Answering Cllr Jorgensen, Cllr Ian Shenton, the Executive Member, stated that the Council did not want to pre-empt the outcome of a public consultation.
However, Cllr Jorgensen expressed doubt that the administration would choose to listen to the response from a consultation.
He pointed to a recent decision by the controlling group at a Council meeting on 22nd June to vote against a consultation response wanting elections every four years.
When pressed on whether he would keep weekly collection if a consultation said that it should remain, Cllr Shenton would only say the administration “would listen to the responses and make a decision”.
The Conservatives have made clear that if they were elected to take charge of the Council, they would keep weekly bin collection due to “a clear desire from residents over a number of years”.
Cllr Norman Jorgensen, Shadow Executive Member for Environment and Leisure, said:
“It’s clear that the Lib Dem, Labour and Independent coalition administration won’t guarantee to keep weekly bin collection.
“The Conservatives in Wokingham Borough were able to keep weekly bin collection for 20 years thanks to the way we looked after the Council’s finances, even when other councils ran out of money and went to fortnightly.
“Every resident who wants this policy to stay needs to respond to the consultation; though based on past performance, I wouldn’t expect the administration to listen to you.
“We will be absolutely clear with residents – if we were in charge, the Conservatives would keep weekly bin collection.”
Cllr Norman Jorgensen’s reference to a previous consultation being ignored:
- At an Extraordinary Council meeting on 22nd June, councillors were asked to vote on whether to have the whole Council elected every four years, or a third of the councillors elected in three out of every four years (election by thirds)
- Councillors were asked to vote on a report recommending elections every four years, after a public consultation found that 54% of respondents wanted this
- Despite this, the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent coalition administration voted to unanimously ignore the outcome of the consultation and implement election by thirds
- During the meeting and after, coalition councillors dismissed the Conservative argument that residents’ views should be listened to, with Cllr Prue Bray, the Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Children’s Services, saying on Twitter on 22nd June: “Conservative trying to suggest the voice of the people in the consultation to move #wokingham to 4 yearly elections is the voice of God and must be obeyed. Bizarre” https://twitter.com/PrueBray/status/1539683545014214657