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Final wheelie bins hurdle is removed
6:00pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
WHEELIE bins are definitely on their way to Malvern after a bid to re-open the controversial subject for more discussion was thrown out.
Malvern Hills District Council is introducing plastic bins and fortnightly collections for recycled waste after winning £1.67 million government funding.
But despite £1.2 million of this already being spent, some councillors did not believe they had ever given the opinion-splitting scheme the go-ahead.
They maintained the only thing ever approved was submitting the bid for funding and councillors were told they would be able to decide whether to proceed once the outcome of the bid was known.
A motion calling for more discussion and a vote on the introduction of wheelie bins was defeated by 17 votes to 14.
Four councillors abstained from voting.
Council leader David Hughes said members had been kept fully informed and implementing the scheme had been agreed “both implicitly and explicitly”, a stance backed by the council’s solicitor Digby Morgan.
But Coun Anthony Warburton insisted there had been “a lack of openness, bordering on secrecy” from the outset. He added: “If we (councillors) are not making the decisions then we might as well disband now, leaving everything for council managers to decide.”
Coun Hannah Campbell added: “I don’t think I would necessarily be against wheelie bins but I am very concerned about how we have reached this.
“The council will struggle to go on if the public does not feel we have been clear and transparent in this decision.”
Coun Dean Clarke said he supported wheelie bins but remembered councillors being told they would be able to make up their mind if and when the bid was accepted.
“Perhaps we were very naive in accepting that word,” he added.
But several other councillors said they were in no doubt a successful funding bid would see wheelie bins rolled out.
Deputy leader Coun Paul Swinburn said: “Councillors have debated this issue at enormous length. I was fully aware last year that if we got the money then we would be doing it.
“I cannot see any other reason why we would be applying for it.”
Talking to the Gazette after the meeting, Coun Hughes said: “It is unfortunate if some members did not feel that they were kept fully informed because that was not the intention of the council.”
But Coun Warburton said: “It seems the council has a narrow majority of councillors who either prefer decisions on controversial matters are made behind closed doors or who are indifferent to the public's interest and concern.”
COUNCIL CHIEF DEFENDS HIS OFFICERS
THE Chief Executive of Malvern Hills District Council has defended his officers after criticism of their role in the wheelie bin saga.
Some people, from both within the council and outside, have suggested it has been officers, rather than elected councillors, who have driven the switch to plastic bins for recycled waste.
But Chris Bocock has written to the Gazette to slam the “inaccurate, misleading and insulting comments” about officers’ role in the matter, claiming they are damaging to the morale and motivation of his staff. However, councillors from both sides of the chamber said it needs to examine how it conducts its business.
At the suggestion of its co-chairman Tom Wells, the council’s overview and scrutiny committee will examine how decisions are being reached.
He said the council was “tainted with embarrassment right now” due to the “11th hour impasses”
over important issues such as wheelie bins and the South Worcestershire Development Plan housing blueprint.
“We need to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again,” he said.
His suggestions was welcomed from across the floor by deputy leader Paul Swinburn.
“We should not be in the position where we are tonight,” he said.
Read Chris Bocock’s letter in full – on the Letters section.