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Roger rubbishes waste bin bid on cost grounds
WORCESTER’S former bins chief has poured cold water over calls to introduce food waste collections – saying the city council has “no chance” without outside help.
Councillor Roger Knight says the authority “isn’t flush with money” and needs to think very carefully about it while “making cuts here, there and everywhere”.
The veteran Tory, who lost his former cabinet role last May following a shock Labour coup, is part of a cross-party panel investigating the issue. Two weeks ago the group visited South Oxfordshire District Council, the UK’s best success story for food waste, to see how they do it.
He said: “When we went to South Oxfordshire we listened very carefully to what they’ve done to make savings, but what worried me is a lot of the things they are looking to do, we’ve done already. Food waste collections may well provide a benefit, but it is not free – and unless we can find a way to meet those costs there really isn’t any point going forward. We aren’t flush with money, we’re making cuts here, there and everywhere and if you start a new service, you’ve got to fund it.”
He did say one possible solution – as revealed in your Worcester News last week – is teaming up with Wychavon District Council to share costs. In Wychavon, people already get a food waste collection, but the council is considering scrapping it in January due to the £600,000 yearly costs.
Coun Knight said the city council will “miss the boat” unless it considers some kind of joint effort. “We don’t want to allow an opportunity to slip away,” he said.
The comments, made during a debate of the scrutiny committee, came as other politicians urged caution.
Councillor Ken Carpenter, a Lib Dem, said: “My speculation would be, any urgency over making sure we don’t lose a chance to collaborate with Wychavon, does not translate to having to make a decision quickly.”
If food waste does launch in Worcester, it would mean all households get a third bin, alongside recycling and general rubbish.
It would be used for any unwanted food scraps, as well as egg shells and even chicken and meat bones.
The investigation over it was instigated by Councillor Neil Laurenson, the city’s lone Green politician, in return for voting in the new Labour leadership last May.