Those who like to paint themselves green should distance should themselves from the charlatans in the Reading Labour Party as quickly as possible. And if you are a Labour councillor that includes you if you want to be taken seriously.
Reading WILL get a greener recycling scheme and it won't be any thanks to Labour. In fact they fought tooth and nail with a sprinkling of vitriol when Lib Dems tried to get glass recycling, anaerobic digesters and meaningful cuts in CO2 levels implemented in Reading and their actions when in power of following national Labour party dogma rather than doing what was best for residents and the environment made it even worse. I had to spend a great deal of last year trying to unravel the unholy mess that they had left recycling in.
In 2007 Steve Waite put out a bragging press release about how Reading's recycling rate had gone up to a massive 35% - which many people pointed out was almost completely due to the introduiction of the larger recycling bins. When I took over three years later, it had actually gone down to 31%. What the **** had he and Paul Gittings been doing in those three years? Resting on their laurels and falling for their own hype it would seem.
Why was the organic waste scheme introduced? To fiddle central government stats. There was no other reason. Did anyone bother to ask whether there was anywhere for the green waste to go (apart that is from Lib Dems because we did and were fobbed of with crap answers)?
Yet, if I am being fair, the question of whether there was a valid destination for it depends completely on your political point of view. Yes, it is if you think getting it mulched then spread ON TOP OF THE LANDFILL to get Gordon Brownie points counts as recycling. That's because Labour government policy said that sending reprocessed waste to landfill didn't count towards the figure so if your motivation was hitting national indicators rather than doing what was right then bingo.
I have a green bin so I am affected just as much as anyone else but it is not a free scheme and never was. If we wanted to start it from scratch it would cost RBC £¾m. Everyone pays for it regardless of use. In fact it was yet another one of the schemes Labour set up where the poor were subsidising the rich.
The result? Reading Labour implemented a scheme that made it more expensive to dispose of green waste than if it had been put in the landfill bins in the first place for marginal benefit to the envirionment.
Think about it - as councils across the nation moved to alternate weekly collections to save large amounts of money (typically £½m-£1m per annum), Reading saved a massive £40k by introducing them. Keeping the existing crews and expensive compacting vehicles going at large expense had nothing to do with keeping the Transport and General Workers Union happy did it? Then again the £4,600 donated to the local party by the union must have come in useful.
Except there was an alternative if at the heart of your core values was a desire to be green and with the advantage of no need to reduce staff levels. If Reading had taken the opportunity to introduce new recycling streams and more options for residents with the money we had saved moving to fortnightly collection, we had a win win... but (and try not to weep when I say this) Labour had signed up the council to a 25 year Private Finance Initiative that would mean that we would pay the price if we wanted to change the deal.
I've seen some residents ask an eminetly reasonable questions. Like why can't we use the revenue for recycling to pay for it all? I can tell you why! All household waste in Reading is "owned" by the PFI not RBC. If there was a market for green waste (and there isn't) then we wouldn't get the money anyway because Labour signed it away. I had Deloites looking though my options for revenue generation and they had to give up when they realised that if we found a company that would have paid for recycled egg boxes in gold RBC wouldn't get a penny.
Oh, did you know that there is a glass collection area all along at Smallmead? I didn't either until I took over the department. Labour kept quiet about that ever beeing an option when we campaigned for glass recycling on behalf of residents.
Glass and food waste recycling would have been a far better use of the money saved from the end of weekly collections. It would have benefited everyone across the borough and been environmentally responsible. Labour were just not up to the job. They bottled it.
If you want Reading to be a greaner place, Labour are the problem - or more accurately the particularly perverse variant of Labour we have in this town. What's saddens me is listening to genuinely commited people who appear to have fallen for their lying bullshit.
I hope that the newer Labour members are simply being gullible when they come out with some of their comments about waste recycling. I'd hate to think they are fully aware of the background and yet were prepared to make knowingly untrue statements about the situation. Or lying as the general population would call it.