Green Waste Collection – Local People Deserve Better than Double Talk


A lot of people have raised the issue of the changes in the Green Waste collection with me whilst I have been out talking to residents recently. I want to be honest with you. There are problems out there and I know that people around here are concerned about it. That is why, along with my local team, I have been taking up the issues residents are raising with Birmingham City Council. We haven’t been using people’s problems as political photo opportunities for ourselves. We have just been getting on with helping them in practice.

I’ll continue to take these issues up with the Council. I am not a Councillor and I sometimes disagree with some of the decisions local councils make.  But I think all parties should be straight with voters about why Birmingham City Council decided to change the free green waste system.

The Conservative-led Government will have forced cuts of over £800 million to be made in Birmingham City Council’s budget by 2018. Over £200 million of cuts are needed over the next year alone. This year we are losing £145 for every household in our city, compared to an average cut of £71 in other parts of the country. The fact is that Birmingham is being short-changed. That is why, along with my Labour colleagues in Parliament, I am urging the Tory Government to change course.

So the Council can’t avoid making difficult decisions. Do they cut green waste collections or cut care for the elderly, services for vulnerable children or something else? Whether you agree with the decision to charge for green waste collection or not, those kinds of decisions will not go away.

That’s why I get so angry about the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Conservatives who complain about green waste charges at the same time as cheering on the Government which has put Birmingham in this position. Tories in this area claim Birmingham gets a good deal from their friends in Downing Street and that the Council has more than enough money to go around. Not so long ago they used to complain Birmingham did not get enough from the last Labour Government when funding for our city was at record levels. They can’t have it both ways.

But they do have “form” in saying one thing in one place and another thing elsewhere. They are against green waste charges in Birmingham where the Tories are in Opposition, but they support them just down the road in Bromsgrove where Tories run the Council. In London, there are reports of Ministers in the Conservative-Lib Dem Government even suggesting Councils could charge for collecting the bins.

People worried about green waste charges deserve better than this kind of double-talk from Conservatives who see the problem as little more than a vote-catching exercise.

That’s why, with my colleagues in the Labour team throughout Northfield constituency, we are being straight with you.  We will continue to take up the issues local people bring to us.  We won’t pretend difficult decisions can be avoided but we will continue to press the Council for sustainable solutions to the problem of how best to manage waste collections at a time of cuts. We’ll prioritise protection of care for the elderly and safeguarding our children. And we’ll continue to work for the change in Government our country needs.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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