Phelim MacCafferty: Uncollected bins and broken promises

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, convenor of the Green Group on Brighton & Hove City Council
Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, convenor of the Green Group on Brighton & Hove City Council

Labour was elected in 2015 on a manifesto promise to make collecting refuse and cleaning the streets a top priority.

They stated Labour councillors would directly oversee the waste service. Yet after four years of running the council, residents have been left to pick up the pieces from their failure to deliver.

Many of the city’s residents began the new year with overflowing bins as rubbish went uncollected over Christmas. According to the council’s own figures missed recycling collections have more than quadrupled and missed rubbish collections tripled in the last six months. The annual City Tracker Survey tells us residents are unhappy with the state of their streets and dissatisfaction with council services is now at its second lowest point since the survey was started. It is sad and unsurprising that many residents no longer see the point in complaining, so low are their expectations. If they do, the Twitter account for Cityclean has been suspended – symbolising a council service with absent political leadership.

Labour has blocked Green suggestions for improvements – such as food waste or increasing the types of recycling collected. We have repeatedly called on Labour to renegotiate the massive £1bn Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal with Veolia, which is contracted to process our waste and recycling. The complex arrangements of PFI mean private companies have been able to hold our council to ransom. Earlier this week, shocking revelations appeared that much of our recycling is being sent by Veolia to the incinerator. This is the second report of major problems in six months and the leader of the council must call for a thorough investigation.

It has never been clearer that this 25-year deal is not fit for purpose. Presumably Labour has been reluctant to do this as the waste deal was struck under Labour leadership of the council. But it’s high time they did – because at a time of massive cuts the millions wasted could have been spent on frontline public services.

Labour’s manifesto commitment is broken. The next step is clear: at the council elections on May 2 it’s time to bin Labour.