Am I the only resident who is confused by North Tyneside’s policy regarding its weekly bin collection?
Initially our elected Mayor informed us that the abolition of weekly collections was a financial imperative, a crucial element of the 2018/2019 budget.
Now we are told by Coun Pickard, Deputy Mayor, that this initiative was not a financial decision after all, but was introduced to improve North Tyneside’s recycling targets.
How interesting – this apparently unavoidable cut in council service now is described as a recycling issue.
Certainly no one can dispute the importance of recycling and the need to protect the Earth’s scarce resources; and no one can question the importance of North Tyneside raising its recycling performance – it is, after all, the worst performing authority in Tyne and Wear.
But to claim that this unpopular decision was initially undertaken for environmental reasons is unacceptable.
In reality it was a highly contentious financial issue in a budget that resulted in a hefty five per cent hike in council tax.
It would appear, therefore, that when necessary, North Tyneside Council can simply airbrush its unpopular decisions and present them in the glowing light of altruism. This is unacceptable.
Local councils need to be transparent and ought not to indulge in ‘spin’. Certainly it is possible to challenge such issues, but with a majority of more than 40 Labour representatives in the council it is impossible to rectify them, and with such an imbalance, it is impossible to guarantee broad and measured debate across the chamber.
More worrying, what we witness here can potentially manifest itself again when issues of more profound significance need to be discussed in the future, including the challenges of our departure from Europe.
This is not healthy for local government.
One can but hope that North Tyneside residents recognise the importance of the 2019 local elections, an opportunity to restore some semblance of open, unbiased cross-fertilisation of opinion within the chamber.