Of all the council’s responsibilities, waste probably seems the least interesting. Nonetheless, it’s one of only a few services every resident uses on a regular basis and when things go wrong I certainly hear about it.
In Crawley, responsibility for dealing with waste is split, with Crawley Borough Council in charge of collection of the town’s waste and West Sussex County Council tasked with its disposal. In practice, this means the borough ensures public and household waste and recycling bins are emptied, but county oversees where the waste goes and runs local amenity tips.
As ever, these two-tiers of responsibilities complicate things. When West Sussex started charging at amenity tips, I warned the county council people would object, but as many people thought that Crawley ran the tip much of the criticism didn’t directly reach the people responsible for the decision and with the power to reverse it. We hear, buried in the Christmas news-cycle, that West Sussex now plan to close Crawley’s amenity tip a day a week during Winter months starting next year.
Crawley is one of less than a quarter of councils which still collect the bins on a weekly basis, yet we’re coming under pressure to change this. Why? Because waste disposal authorities get paid to recycle, the more they recycle the greater their income and if we make it harder for people to fit everything in general waste they believe people will recycle more.
We may recycle less than our neighbours, but we also throw away a lot less than our neighbours. While we need to work with people to recycle more, it’s not up to outsiders to tell residents how often they can have their bins collected and so long as there’s a need for the service it’s one Crawley will continue to offer.