I’ve previously written on this blog about the imminent new waste contract – and specifically as to whether we as a village should support the new corporate contractor (Biffa) or our existing local waste company (Wyecycle).
With the new contract due to start in early July, both sides have been soliciting support. Last week residents of Wye received this letter from Jessamy Blanford (130603blanford), Ashford Borough Council’s (ABC’s) portfolio holder for the Environment.
And then on Friday, we received this missive from Richard Boden, director of Wyecycle: 130603wyecycle3
On one level, the battle lines would appear to be drawn between a large corporation, and a small local independent pioneering recycling operative.
Small. Local. Independent. Pioneering.
Normally such words in connection with any organisation would have me leaping to its defence. But on this occasion I find myself unable to do so.
While I have previously written about the many positive aspects of Wyecycle, I cannot currently see how it can find the funds to offer a proper comprehensive service.
Currently the organisation collects food waste, bottles and paper for free – and various other materials if one pays for a £1.50 tag.
Even if it received waste contract money from ABC (which is a big ‘if’), would it be able to collect plastic, cans, electronic equipment, clothes: all of the materials that will be collected by Biffa?
I don’t think so.
Then there is the matter of Wyecycle’s constitution.
In Wyecycle Update number 3, Richard Boden refers to the community right to challenge and quotes the ABC website: “The Right to Challenge makes it easier for voluntary and community groups or council employees to take on the running of council services and enables eligible groups to express an interest in doing this.”
The problem is that Wyecycle is not currently operating as a voluntary or community group. It’s a company limited by guarantee and the community is not involved at all in its management.
I have made these points to Richard Boden in an email on May 31 but, while he replied to my mail, he chose not to answer my questions, preferring to stick to the basic philosophical point that the parish council should support a local, pioneering organisation.
I also suggested that he and I sit down to discuss plan B (possibly a community recycling organisation running alongside the main contractor?) because there is clearly an appetite in the village for community initiatives and there are undoubtedly other ways to fund them aside from the waste contract.
So far he hasn’t accepted the offer. I remain hopeful that he’ll do so sometime in the future.
For more details on the new waste contract please visit http://www.ashford.gov.uk/waste.