REPORT on the Open Meeting held after the AGM
Saturday, 21 April 2012
"Recycling & Waste Management - the new arrangements"; information provided by speaker William Smith (WS), Senior Waste & Recycling Officer, TDC Public Experience Department
After thanking the FRA for the invitation to speak, WS explained that the new service would take 8 weeks to roll out across the whole district. It had started in Clacton, next week it would be Brightlingsea and week commencing 7 May the new containers would be delivered in Frinton where collections would start from the following week. With apologies to those who had heard this stated before, he said that residents would receive a red box for paper/card which would separate these materials and complement the green box already provided which would be used in future for tins, cans and plastic bottles, but not for plastic carrier bags, food containers, food wrapping or trays. Plastic bottles would include milk bottles, etc. Paper could not be put out in a plastic bag because this would lead to contamination. The green and red boxes would be collected on alternate weeks.
He pointed out that he had been involved in the implementation of the previous scheme eight to nine years ago. However, the number of questions this new scheme had raised had far exceeded those raised last time. More people had been brought in to answer the queries and he would be rushing back to his office after speaking today in order to carry on answering questions. It was a very busy time.
Then he reported that less than 200 tonnes of plastics would be lost and that they were weighing up the environmental benefits against financial considerations; the new service would cost £450,000 pa less than the previous scheme and the other thing was that the contractors running the scheme took the financial risk for materials going forward. There would be no change to the black sack collection, but in addition to the red and green boxes, two food containers/caddies would be provided: one for collecting food scraps indoors and one for putting out for collection. There would be a food waste collection weekly, in addition to the current black bag collection, and either a paper collection or a plastic bottles/tins/cans collection weekly meaning that there would be three collections each week. With around 68,000 properties in the District, this meant there would be 10 million points of contact with residents over the year and it was anticipated that an extra 2,400 tonnes would be recycled.
Q: How will flat dwellers be accommodated – they won’t have room for all these bins?
A: There will be alternative arrangements for flats.
Q: What is done with the food waste?
A: It is taken to Cambridge where it becomes fertiliser.
Q: Why not garden waste?
A: We are looking at alternatives, but it is driven by European Parliament. The UK would be fined for not taking out the food waste. This is funded by the ECC because they would have to pay Europe if we did not collect it.
He reported that in Tendring, 70% of the population were producing their own compost, and TDC had the lowest cost of waste collection in Essex. If a garden waste service was introduced, some people would stop producing their own compost, and it would cost £700,000 pa to provide such a service, ie it would be a case of introducing an additional scheme and discouraging people from composting themselves. An alternative was to use a chargeable service such as that provided by Eastern Waste Disposal; they collect garden waste and turn it into fertiliser for a fee.
Q: We fill two green boxes with paper and card every week. Will we be provided with extra boxes?
A: After the roll out, there will be additional boxes available. We realise that there are a lot of properties/people who do not have green boxes. 30,000 more green boxes are being delivered at a cost of £70,000. The red or green boxes can be put out each week – it is the content which is important – that must be correct each week or it will not be collected. If you choose to have more boxes, these can be purchased from B&Q, put out on collections days and they will be emptied.
Q: Can you put the green box lid on red boxes on windy days when the paper will get blown across the streets and countryside? It appears that you are making changes to this service to meet EU requirements, not for the environment.
A: £65,000 worth of savings has been made by not having lids. I totally agree that we should be doing things for the environment, but on a practical level, the lid from the green box can be used, or the food waste caddy can be put on top. It does not matter if the paper gets wet. In fact, it is better because the water adds weight.
However, it was widely felt that containers for card/paper should be provided with lids.
Q: Is it correct that participation in this scheme is voluntary so people can decide that they do not want to take part?
A: Everything can be put in the black sack. It will not be policed.
Q: With the paper getting wet, have health and safety issues been considered?
A: The size of the box is 55 litres for that reason.
Q: Obviously food waste will have to be wrapped?
A: No, it is not to be wrapped and neither of the caddies comes with a bag or liner. However, if it is necessary to do so, use newspapers, kitchen roll or compostable bags which are available from supermarkets at a cost of around 10p each; these start to decompose after four days. No plastic bags are to be used, even if they are biodegradable.
He added that this brought up the question of the amount of food people are throwing away, and felt that it was madness that people buy food and then throw it away.
Q: How animal-proof are the lids on the caddy which is put outside for collection?
A: The content will be safe from birds/seagulls, foxes, rats, etc. (WS then demonstrated how the lid locked down by using the handle.) He then added that previously there had been concern about the black sacks being attacked by vermin, and therefore, the caddy had its advantages.
Q: With regard to recycling tins/cans, does this refer to just aluminium drink cans, or all tins?
A: Any tins or cans can put out for recycling.
He then stated that TDC’s contractors Veolia had a new fleet of vehicles split 70/30 back to front, 30% would be food, 70% tins/cans/plastic or paper/card. Machinery would separate the plastic bottles from the tins/cans and this is the reason why we are collecting plastic bottles only. The quality of the material (such as the plastic bottles) determines its value.
After thanking TDC for continuing to collect on a weekly basis, a resident stated that she had experience of food waste and it was incredibly messy. If the caddies were left lying about with the lids off after being emptied, it would cause problems.
A: Despite the fact that weekly collections continue with, Tendring are still cheaper than other areas where fortnightly collections are undertaken. WS added that he was on a learning curve, but he understood that food waste collection had a take up rate of 75%. However, TDC were trying to be sensitive to people’s concerns, the waste collectors would try to pick out what they could when collecting rubbish, but some residents were concerned about what was left. We had to find an appropriate way of finding out if the bins had been emptied, and that is why we require the boxes to be turned upside down after emptying, but they should not be left with the lid off.
Q: The Council have previously sponsored the cost of garden waste composting bins. Will there be a repeat of this initiative?
A: I would encourage everybody to own compost bins. Food which cannot be put into a compost bin can be put in the caddy, ie cooked meat/food, bones, etc. Subsidized compost bins are still available. They now cost £15 each which is approximately half price compared with B&Q and there is a possibility that TDC may have some that they can subsidize further in the future. Details are available on the website.
Q: I use a paper shredder. Is it possible for shredded paper to be recycled?
A: No, shredded paper cannot be recycled because the fibres have been broken – it is no longer recyclable. I would suggest that you put it in a home compost bin, use it as bedding for small pets, or (and it goes against the grain) you put it in the black sack. It is unfortunate, but we have to look at the plus side of the new service which is a 5% increase in the amount being recycled; the more important materials are being re-cycled as we are now asking people to go further with recycling and make it more efficient.
Q: Now that we cannot put so many things in recycling, is there any place where we can recycle things like plastic tubs, etc
A: Plastic bags can be taken back to the supermarket, but tubs cannot be taken to tips. There is very little that is not recyclable, but some things cost more to recycle. The symbols on plastic items might be confusing in this respect.
Q: Nine out of ten food items now come wrapped in plastic. Are we going backwards?
A: Historically, waste grows three to four per cent per year. However, in Tendring our waste is shrinking, but it is judged on weight rather than volume.
Councillor Iris Johnson added that it was very much down to shoppers, not to buy items wrapped in plastic, but to try to purchase unwrapped items where possible to encourage shops to sell more goods loose. She said that we need to re-educate ourselves by buying loose apples, etc.
Q: With regard to glass recycling, what would be the value of one of those containers at the Triangle if it were full?
A: It costs the Council £20 per tonne for the glass to be collected. The UK is 15 years behind Europe where there are organisations who buy glass. In the UK, we have to find people to take it and we have to pay them. We do not have people who will pay for it.
In conclusion, it was obvious from the answers provided that TDC’s main aim was to save Council Taxpayer’s money (approx £450,000 pa) by meeting EU targets to avoid paying any fines and also to recycle materials for environmental reasons but only when it was financially advantageous to do so.
Q: Is there any way recyclable materials not now being collected can be returned to local stores?
PM thanked WS for a very informative talk and stated that those with questions could contact him via the TDC website. She then added that all those present were very concerned for the environment, and as disappointment had been expressed that it was not possible to recycle all plastic, shredded paper and Tetra packs, she stated that the FRA Committee would look at this and intended to contact local stores to find out what facilities they were able to offer for recycling such items.
NB All the above answers (A) to questions (Q) were provided by William Smith.
“Frinton in Bloom Future Work Programme"; information provided by David Foster (DF), Chairman of Frinton in Bloom (FiB)
After being introduced by the Chairman, DF stated that every year FiB had a Work Programme. Last year was successful, but success needed to be sustained year on year. There was a five-year management programme for Crescent Gardens where was now in its third year. Each year judges were sent to inspect the Gardens and this year there was to be a mystery shopper. He said that they were particularly concerned this year because there might be a water problem. Even though it may be affect this area, they were still water-minded as they were mindful of people in other areas who would not be able to use water services. They had to have a sense of responsibility. Last year, FiB had been invited to Tatton Park and was very fortunate to be included in a Gardeners’ World programme. The Garden Designers received a medal and they were currently working with FiB again this year on the design of a bowman in willow which was just one of the FiB projects.
DF reported that they had also involved with Essex Police Authority on a protected or secure garden project incorporating security features, which they had been working on with a local garden designer since September last year. Now it was open to the public at Parkers Garden Company where it was possible to see what it was all about. It was the first (pilot) scheme in this country.
He added that for all FiB projects volunteers and finance were needed. Sponsorship was necessary and they were grateful to everyone who had sponsored them. They were interested in finding those with complementary roles as they liked to help others, such as the children at Frinton Primary School. Over the years, FiB had brought in other people and they have helped year on in; with the school project B&Q had helped. Other projects included the Scouts/Beavers, and an allotment was dedicated to a particular group of children in order to educate them in the old ways of generating food. He explained that they were trying to keep saving that which we have, and to diversify when other people have ideas or projects. They were always trying to raise money as they were always spending money, but they tried to be careful in what they were doing. They were also working with Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust.
The team were looking forward to going to Tatton Park and working with the BBC again. He stated that now Frinton was national; people in the north were looking forward to Frinton joining them and there was marvellous camaraderie – people in places like Newcastle know us. He added that different team members were taken each time so that they gained from this experience. DF later displayed a picture of the proposed garden design for Tatton Park 2012 and explained that it was available in a leaflet.
Q: Why is it not possible to reinstate healthy gardens at the entrance to Frinton? The bark chippings surrounding the shrubs are blown all over the pathway making it dangerous to walk on, and the berries on some of the shrubs are poisonous and could be eaten by children. It is very sad that the entrance to Frinton is such a disaster.
A: After the Gates were removed, the gardens were designed by ECC. However, they do not maintain them. We do have an option that we can change it if we wish, but there is a cost involved (£6,000 - £7,000) and then we would have to maintain those gardens. At the moment, we have gone along with what has been put there, but we have not forgotten it. Until we have a new design and the funding to change it, we can only keep it tidy and try to avoid poisonous berries.
Q: Kirby and Walton have still got their gardens.
A: They did not have the changes that we had in Frinton, but we are trying to do our best.
Q: Can anything be done to improve the station platform?
A: We are working with Essex Wildlife Trust. When the booking office is shut, we cannot get access to the other side of the platform, but Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust are trying to make the other side more pleasant. We are looking at different areas, and we would like people to come forward with ideas.
A resident stated that she knew how hard it was when nobody offered to help, and David needed more people to help him.
The Chairman thanked DF for the incredible amount of work he and his team did, and that done by the Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust. She asked if there was anyone who could help in any way, could they please contact DF at the end of the meeting, and that residents should back him with donations.
NB The above answers (A) to questions (Q) were provided by David Foster and the one below was provided by John Smock.
Then the Chairman introduced JS who explained that “Ontrack” was the brand name for the Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-Sea, Kirby Cross & Thorpe-Le-Soken Rail Users’ Association which was a pressure group, or Consumer Interest Group like “Which”, which looked after the interests of users of the local railway lines (Clacton & Walton lines). “Ontrack” unpaid volunteers worked with sister groups (Manningtree and Arlesford) and talked to various people. He said that if these Associations did not speak up for rail users, there would be more impositions because there were other places which were more active and we had to compete with them to obtain a decent rail service.
Although “Ontrack” did not have any statutory powers, it was a recognised stakeholder and regular meetings take place with Senior Managers of transport operating companies. In fact, last Tuesday (17 April 2012) a meeting took place with Greater Anglia Railways. Passenger Focus was the statutory body that covered the interests of bus and railway passengers. However, because their budget had been cut by 50%, Passenger Focus was looking for help from Rail User Groups to gather information and campaign for improvements, ie they are looking to groups such as “Ontrack” to make the running, and Councils and politicians needed to be engaged.
JS stated that useful information was available on the “Ontrack” website (www.ontrackrailusers.org.uk), but the main issues for Greater Anglia were: timetables, punctuality, cleanliness, reliability, customer service and communication, compensation or alternative arrangements when problems occur, problems of travelling at weekends when engineering works were being undertaken, low off-peak service (hourly), high fares, extended journey times (they used to be shorter), booking offices not being open and staffed, car parking charges, anti-social behaviour, the Olympics, the Cross Rail Project, the McNulty Review, and in particular, the Frinton office has not been open when it should have been.
Then JS reported that “Ontrack” representatives had met Abellio and received an update that they were going to improve customer service and clean trains. Abellio had a contract, but with limited room to manoeuvre. To all intents, the local train service was not subsidised, and now bidding was taking place for the 15-Year Long-Term Franchise which would cover the infrastructure for the future, ie long-term investments in new train fleets, extra tracking, etc. However, JS’s main concern was that there was no mechanism for a good operator being recognised in the bidding for the new franchise, and the best service would not necessarily result.
He concluded by saying that “Ontrack” wanted TDC Officers and Councillors to speak up for this area. Although the actual responsibility rested at County Hall, a united voice was required for Tendring - in order to get what we want, we needed to stand together across Essex.
Q: Just how effective are organisations like yours? Taking the removal of the “Gates” as an example – they did not listen.
A: Essex County Council has to make up their minds as to what their priorities are because these are lacking. Abellio is great at customer service and their customer is the Department of Transport. “Ontrack” has influence, but not statutory power, although sometimes this can be more important. The crossing gates was a difficult situation. Our main concern was to keep the line to Walton and there was serious discussion regarding this because we wanted Walton to thrive. The mood was to get rid of level crossings entirely. We would have liked traffic lights interlocked with Gates, but we had to make a choice. On the safety side, high speeds cause accidents and we believe that what we have is the best possible solution because of the financial implications. It is not an unmanned crossing, it is controlled by a man watching a screen in Colchester, and it is not automatic.
The Chairman added that all organisations needed to work together to achieve a better service. She then thanked JS and his organisation for all the work they do, and explained that he would be available at the end of the meeting to answer further questions.
General Discussions then took place.
PCSO Peter White (PW) reported on low crime levels in the area. However, two robberies had taken place in the Avenues in the last couple of weeks - holiday premises had been targeted. The Police had stepped up controls night and day, and they were aware. Apart from that the only other problem was anti-social behaviour, which seemed to have ceased lately. There was a group that they were well aware of, and if there were any cases of anti-social behaviour they would be dealt with as soon as possible. However, it was a very low percentage compared with other towns. PW stated that this could be reported via a mobile phone number available on the website (07850 631017) and he asked those present to ring that number with their concerns.
With regard to the possible closure of Walton Police Station, he said that he knew nothing about whether or when it would be closed, but they did not want to move. However, if they had to, the PCSOs would still be based in the area. He understood discussions and meetings had taken place with the Town Council and they had been assured that efforts were being made to find a local base.
If anyone had further questions, PW would be available for questions after the meeting, and PM thanked the two PCSOs for coming along to the meeting.
Councillor Nick Turner (NT) then asked for support in opposing the restriction of a right of way, ie the alleyway beside what used to be King’s Greengrocers that led from Connaught Avenue through to Old Way had been blocked. He explained that he had asked for the Town Council to place this on the Agenda for a meeting in three weeks’ time in order to carry this forward, and had investigated with map makers whether this could be regarded as a right of way. He knew that it had been a right of way for more than 22 years, but he needed evidence that it was being used as such. Therefore, he was obtaining forms for members of the public to complete. These would be available at the Town Council offices, and he would be forwarding a copy electronically to the FRA Secretary who had agreed to send them on to residents. He concluded by saying that the more people who use that alleyway, the more chance there was of getting them to open it up again for use by the people of Frinton.
The Chairman thanked NT for his work in this respect.
Q: Relating to the issue of King’s Greengrocers, there are rumours circulating as to what the premises are being used for. Is it being illegally occupied?
A (NT): I have contacted planning because it should be for A1 (retail) use only. I am currently obtaining more information, sending an email to enforcement, and an Officer will be checking this.
Q: What is happening with the old Budgen store?
A (Chairman): We have been informed by Rachel Fryer, TDC Town Centre Co-ordinator, that it will be a grocery store. NT then added that Mark Platt at Harwoods would be able to provide more information.
The Chairman concluded the open meeting by pointing out that FRA membership forms and a questionnaire on the need for more play equipment locally were available in the Newsletter, and reminding people of the events taking place in the near future: the Pedlars Wood Open Days taking place on 5 & 6 May with a special 25th Anniversary Raffle, the FRA Coffee Morning to take place on Saturday, 26 May and the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations taking place from 2 to 5 June. She encouraged everyone to celebrate together, have picnics on The Greensward, and keep Frinton unique.