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The Berrylands Trial

December 9, 2006

The Scrutiny Panel of RBK subjected the proposed new waste collection trial in Berrylands to such scrutiny that the matter was sent to full Council and the start thereby delayed. The reasons the matter was called in to the Panel are:-

  1. The location and nature of the trial should have been disclosed to the Scrutiny Panel at a meeting devoted exclusively to the future of waste management on 5th September. They weren’t and, indeed, it subsequently transpired that even the Executive member didn’t learn about them until the following day.
  2. The trial involves changing the frequency of collections and changes in what can be collected and how. We presume the intention is to roll this out across the Borough in due course. We were not satisfied that there had been adequate consultation with the people affected by a more complex system than they are used to or that the bins intended for use were adequate for the purpose.
  3. It is intended that the general waste bins should be fitted with readable microchips. While these are usable, as stated, merely for counting bins to ensure none are missed, it is disingenuous of the Administration to suggest that this is their sole purpose. They can also be used for charging by weight the householders whose bins they are. This isn’t going to happen yet but it could in the future. The Liberal Democrats were VERY insistent that this proposal should not be dropped, as the Conservatives’ motion to Council proposed.
  4. The area selected is not typical of the cross-section of dwelings in Kingston as a whole, causing concern about the applicability of any ‘results’ which might be forthcoming from the trial.
  5. We were concerned that Council resources had been committed to the implementation of this trial before any elected member knew of it or even the Executive had debated or approved it. That has to be the implication of what we were told at Scrutiny, when the matter was called in, by the Executive member herself. This goes much deeper than the question of the trial itself and raises grave questions of accountability and transparency in the way the Council is being run.
  6. Our reference to Council gave Berrylands members an opportunity to vote on the matter in public, instead of behind closed doors in the obscurity of a Liberal Democrat party group meeting.

The Executive, on Tuesday 5th December, decided to go ahead with the trial starting, probably, in February. We note with pleasure the intention that future trials will be mounted giving adequate time for the scrutiny process to take place before implementation.

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