Our independent weekend columnist Observer looks as the future of recycling in Wealden, pavement parking and, surprise, surprise the trains which seem to blight our writer’s life.
Wealden District Council – along with three other local authorities in East Sussex – privatised refuse and recycling collections in 2013.
The move was designed to save money. It appears that it has. However, the question is: at what cost?
The reputations of Wealden and Kier have never really recovered from the shambolic early days where collections were missed here, there and everywhere.
Wealden will point to the fact that everything has “settled down”. Household recycling rates are up …the implication is that everything in the garden is rosy.
Well, yes and no.
It seems – if you go with a straw poll of those in the Dog and Duck – that some people are totally happy, while the other side of the table have a different story.
Information supplied to me by an UckfieldNews.com reporter (from the district council) indicates that there has been unease about this contract virtually from the off.
A Wealden spokesman said: “The councils and Kier mutually concluded that the contract should end in 2019, after a long series of contract meetings which date back to 2013.”
That tells me everything. If things are hunky dory, you don’t need a “long series of contract meetings”.
The question for Wealden, along with its partners in Rother, Eastbourne and Hastings is: what happens from 2019 when the deal with Kier ends.
Of course, Kier could put in another tender but the councils have a couple of years to re-think refuse and recycling.
It’s at this point I will play the “green card”.
Wealden, quite rightly, is proud of its recycling record. Now it needs to think about: re-use.
Some brief research on recycling shows that it is an international trade as a “commodity”.
That means your plastic milk bottle could be shipped to China.
Penny on a bottle
Somehow, that doesn’t feel quite right to me.
Some of my older friends well remember the days when recycling meant taking back the beer bottles to the off licence and collecting a penny and the same with fizzy drink bottles.
That would seem to be a good starting point for the future.
It would mean Wealden – and the whole of local government – re-thinking recycling. A change is necessary and the ending of the contract with Kier gives the East Sussex partnership a chance to set new standards.
The news this week that local authorities (nationally) are calling on the government to ban pavement parking comes as no surprise.
Here in Uckfield, pavements are littered with cars and vans all over the town and many pedestrians would welcome a change in the law.
Drivers will often say pavement parking is the only way of being able to park and keep traffic moving through narrow streets.
An interesting battle is ahead, particularly as the growth in car ownership shows no sign of abating.
Life on the trains
Train operator Southern says “our passengers deserve better”. Yes, we do.
Let’s see what the record is like in a few weeks’ time.
One last chance…how many have they had?