Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Sutton Guardian’s ‘Rubbish Plan’

The local paper is continuing its campaign against the £35 charge for green garden waste collection with its, admittedly clever headline.


However, I wonder if anyone has stopped to ask themselves, “Why would the Lib Dem run council introduce what was obviously going to be such an unpopular measure?” Particularly when the council is under fierce attack from the power-hungry Tory opposition group still smarting from their unexpected defeat last time round, and a fast approaching 2010 election.


The answer is that despite knowing that this move would be unpopular, it was outweighed by the overall benefit of the whole waste reorganisation package of which it is an essential part: that is – the saving of £4.5million pounds on this year’s budget, with further projected savings into the future. It was this innovative move to an agenda of waste minimisation, having made great achievements with recycling in the borough that means we will be protected from heavy landfill charges being imposed upon us. What that means to residents in Sutton is that despite our pitiful, ever shrinking funding contribution from central Government, we were able to minimise the council tax increase for this year and the next.


Yes warnings were made about the likely unpopularity of charging for a service previously provided free, by members of both parties, but the overall decision was agreed because of its considerable benefits. It also meant that we would not have to consider other unpopular measures which other boroughs have introduced, such as fortnightly brown bin collections or fines for overflowing bins.


We also relied upon the high environmental awareness of Sutton’s residents, who have come along with us wholeheartedly in our desire to become one of the top recycling boroughs. Our residents have repeatedly shown their commitment to reducing their impact on the environment by supporting our green policies, and we had hoped that they would understand this new policy and take up the offer of free compost bins to help us reduce the amount of waste we as a borough send to landfill. Unfortunately it seems that this time we have been unable to get our message across, and more difficult decisions lie ahead. I am afraid that we may be faced with replacing one unpopular choice with an even worse one, if we listen to those who shout the loudest.


It is all very well for the Tories stoking up the protest and trading on Cllr. Kennedy’s claims that he saw it coming, but where were their alternative solutions? It is very easy to sit on the fence and criticise the decisions of others, but when you are in power difficult decisions have to be made, hopefully in the best interests of the majority. Popular decisions aren’t always the best decisions, and the people who make the most noise are not necessarily representative of the majority, only reflecting their own personal interests. What is needed is the ability to see the bigger picture, and to take risks, even if they might make the council unpopular. I am proud to belong to a party that is willing to take risks, to go against the flow and stand by its principles.


July 7, 2008 - Posted by | Opinion

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