We had a typical Scouse response last night when we were out door knocking in Church Ward. “You can tell the Labour Party is back in control – the bloody streets are filthy again!”
It has to be said that there is a lot of truth in that statement. On the first of last month a new contract was awarded to a company which now also includes the company that had the contract which expired! The tendering process has been known for many months and there has been ample opportunity to prepare for it. Yet it would appear that vital discussions with the employees’ representatives had not been held.
With three weeks all staff were concerned all the staff were on a work to rule within four weeks about half the staff are also striking every Friday with the promise of worse to come.
The results can be seen on our streets and may soon be seen in our GPs surgeries. Unemptied bins, swollen with rubbish, spilling out with bags all around. With the heat of the summer much of the contents are attracting flies and potentially other vermin.
It is no exaggeration to say that this could lead to health problems. It certainly looks a mess and will be a big knock back to our image as we now have so many people coming to our city especially for the Liverpool International Music Festival in two weeks time.
The major complaint from people who I have meet from all over the city is that there is no information coming out of the Council and that ringing Liverpool Direct is a complete waste of time. Politicians have been absent from the public discussion and there appears to have been no attempt by the council to mediate in an action which has such a serious consequence for the people of the City.
Yet despite the incompetence of the council in being unable to transfer a contract successfully they are still blindly insisting on introducing fortnightly collections without any prior consultation with the people of Liverpool. If you walk down Meredale Road which has not had a bin collection since 26th July and you can see what fortnightly collections will mean if not introduced properly.
We are not opposed to fortnightly collections but we are opposed to forcing it upon people without talking to them. There are areas where it can be done easily and others where it will be difficult. There are people who will be able to adapt quickly and there are others who will not.
Already the Council has chosen to ignore our research in which more than 3,000 people responded to our survey with great concern about the measures and a number of specific problems. The most important of these is that the recycling bins are already full so that one of the reasons for our poor recycling rates is that surplus recycling then goes in the normal bin.
The Council has done nothing to implement other parts of the motion that I seconded successfully at our council meeting in January. Where are the reports on more bring sites, development of a recycling complex and educational measures about why and how to recycle which, amongst other things were all approved 7 months ago and ignored ever since.
This will not end quickly. The fortnightly collection will inevitably involve a lot fewer staff and that may mean compulsory redundancies. Politically this is good for us. We can make hay whilst the sun shines and for a long time after that. But that is not where we want to be. This dispute is deeply damaging for the city that we love and it needs action now to solve it.
The only way forward in the short and medium term is for the Council to show leadership by both talking to and listening to both the work force and the people of the city.
Fat chance of that – so that’s why I am predicting now that there will be chaos on the streets of Liverpool until Christmas.