Following the pressure by Vale Conservatives led by Cllr Simon Howell, opposition Leader of the VWHDC, residents will be pleased to hear that their bins will be emptied for the first time since mid-July. This temporary measure will be starting on Monday 27 September and will see residents’ bins collected once every 4 weeks.
On the 6th September the Conservatives called for an extraordinary meeting of the Vale of White Horse District Council. This took place on 21st September with announcements of changes made hours before the meeting.
The debate by Cllr Howell raised again the many failings of the ruling administration over what can only be referred to as a shambolic and chaotic situation. He said “It was sad that it took the calling of an extraordinary meeting for the administration to be open and transparent to solve this issue.”
Cllr Howell said “The Liberal Democrat administration could no longer sit on their hands while residents pay for a service that was not being provided. I believe that without our intervention and calling the meeting at the start of the month, the situation with Brown Bin collections would have gone unchallenged and the total suspension of collections continued for many more weeks or perhaps months.”
Cllr Howell went on to add, “I am delighted that action has been taken and the Vale Leader has apologised to residents. We have achieved what we set out to do, getting some form of Brown Bin collection restarted and an effective refund for residents. I hope the administration learns from its mistakes. Vale residents certainly deserve better."
Despite some Liberal Democrat councillors saying an extraordinary meeting of the council was 'a waste of time', the meeting held at Milton Park on Tuesday evening enabled members of the public to address the Council with their concerns around the lack of service and for councillors to hold the administration to account. We’re relieved that the administration has finally started to listen to its residents, to restore the service they have been paying for, especially following this year's steep price increase.
The Liberal Democrat administration has adopted the suggestion first made by Conservatives in an open letter at the start of August and confirmed that subscriptions will be extended by three months, meaning delays to direct debits to bring the service back into line, with the Cabinet Member responsible declaring 'No one will be out of pocket'.
Communication with residents was criticised as it was reliant on social media and the Vale’s website. In addition to the lack of notice of the suspension of the garden waste service, the Vale continued to send out invoices whilst taking money which exacerbated the situation. Many local residents have been left in the dark for almost two months since the decision was taken to suspend garden waste collections at the beginning of August. Despite numerous calls from Conservative councillors to improve communication around the decision, the Liberal Democrats have only just committed to writing a letter to residents about the temporary collection scheme.
The restored service will provide for a 4 week rather than a fortnightly collection and will be reviewed again on 25 October.
The Conservatives on the Vale will continue to hold the Lib Dem administration to account and make sure residents are listened to and their concerns acted upon.