Adur and Worthing weekly refuse collections: our call for consultation before major change is approved tonight

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Broken political promises are all too common and undermine our trust in those we elect.

If Conservative cabinet members vote to scrap weekly refuse collections in Adur and Worthing tonight, they shatter a party pledge repeated not only prior to May’s elections, but a commitment stretching back years.

Read more: vote in our poll on weekly refuse collections

Herald archives and election materials are awash with statements supporting weekly collections.

In May, Worthing Tories accused Labour of planning to decimate the weekly service it had ‘protected’.

In light of all this, a U-turn might be viewed as embarrassing – but judging by Adur leader Neil Parkin’s comments yesterday, there appears to be no shame in such a significant climbdown so soon after the elections.

We are told things have changed. Whether voters believe enough has changed to break an election pledge remains to be seen.

The councils argue recycling rates are stubbornly low, woefully short of the 50 per cent government target to be met by 2020.

This is not news.

Councillors review the Platforms for Our Places strategy every six months, and a January to June progress report in July discussed the issue.

The review painted a rather different picture to today’s proposal.

Back then, education appeared to be key. Building on a successful recycling trial in Findon Valley, as well as using ‘social media and direct contact with residents’, was part of the action plan.

Councillors raised no concern over the approach, according to the minutes of the joint strategic committee at the time.

A little more than three months later, the same committee could decide far more radical measures are needed to help make the grade.

A press release issued last week saw the councils’ leaders state recycling rates had not improved rapidly enough ‘despite all of our education programmes’.

We question whether those education programmes have been good – or extensive – enough.

Union questions recycling motives behind move away from weekly refuse collections.

The last major drive, we understand, was launched in February, 2016.

While responsibility for changing behaviours ultimately rests with the individual, it is clear the councils need to do a vastly better job to hammer the message home.

Even if the changes proposed tonight led to an uplift in recycling seen elsewhere when such action is implemented, the councils would still only be halfway to the 50 per cent mark.

A campaign to support any change – supported by a sizeable chunk of taxpayers’ money – could well be a case of ‘too little, too late’.

As part of a packed agenda tonight, cabinet members will first discuss a report about making improvements to its public consultations.

Bins is the very next item, with a decision to be taken with no meaningful public consultation, nor a proper vote at full council. The juxtaposition is unfortunate.

The proposal on the agenda is too significant to be approved by a select group of councillors alone.

There is plenty of time to launch a full public consultation.

A Herald poll launched yesterday has already gathered more than 1,100 votes. A total of 86 per cent have said ‘no’ to the councils’ plans so far.

When 20mph speed limits were proposed in Worthing a few years ago, our survey closely tallied with the level of opposition recorded in the official public consultation.

We invite Adur and Worthing councils to see if readers gauge opinion correctly once again.