Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Environment Select

Last night saw a meeting of the Environment Select Committee, a good range of issues up for discussion with particular discussion on the forthcoming rules for the WEEE directive, and the Public Realm enforcement strategy, both of which will discussed at the Executive on Tuesday.

The item on the WEEE directive stems from the need that the council now has to ensure that the amount of electrical and electronic equipment going to landfill is reduced and the amount sent for recycling increases.

A number of electrical retailers (such as Curry’s) will be providing a ‘take back’ facility for their customers when purchasing new appliances and the like. However there is an expectation that a number of households will want collections of electrical goods too big to be disposed of in the black wheeled bin or that they cant return in another way.

So far, items like this have been collected as part of the normal bulky waste collection which is charged at up to 5 items collected for £10, but due to the need for these goods to go to recycling this will no longer be possible.

As such the bulk of last nights report was to consider a recommendation to the executive on a way forward with the options been either to continue with the existing bulky waste charge or to charge separately for these in the same way as fridge’s and freezers.

A discussion followed which to a recommendation from the committee for a £10 charge per ‘large’ item with it been ok for a smaller item to be included inside. Consideration was also given to having the charging on a sliding scale based possible on size and weight.

I abstained from supporting the recommendation because whilst I appreciate there is a cost to providing the service, I think the £10 charge per item is a bit excessive and although the report believe there is unlikely to be an increase in fly-tipping if the recommendation is approved. There hasn’t being (and there won’t be until after the recommendation is approved or otherwise) any consultation with bodies such as High Peak Community Housing, who have experienced problems caused by the existing bulky waste policy.

The public realm enforcement strategy is looking at improving the ways the Council and our partners can tackle those that cause the public realm not to be clean tidy and safe.

It follows on from a draft last September which has been out for consultation, with amendments been made to the original following comments around the Council’s stance on ‘information posters’, and the need for the Council to be more considerate in how it responds to those posters promoting community and not for profit events and the overall need for the document to contain less jargon and be easier to read.

The main highlights from last nights deliberations were around some forthcoming work which will hopefully lead to Police Community Support Officers to be able to issue fixed penalty notices for ‘low level environmental crimes’ such as littering, dog fouling and so on.

A further point discussed was around the need for a review on bylaws with regards to dogs in public spaces. Which the committee decided after a brief discussion that further by-laws were not needed at this time to tackle the few exception to the majority of generally well behaved dog owners, rather enforcement of existing rules would be better to target those causing the problems.

A final point on the meeting was raised by the Executive member for the Environment around concerns that officers without the approval elected members had removed an item from the agenda. A report on this was requested from the acting chief executive, so more on this as soon as there are further details.

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