Adur and Worthing bins: Councillor quizzed on Conservatives’ decision to scrap weekly refuse collections six months after election ‘promise’

Councillor Edward Crouch
Councillor Edward Crouch

A senior councillor has been quizzed on why weekly refuse collections in Adur and Worthing will be scrapped after ‘promising’ during election campaigning they would continue.

Worthing cabinet member for environment Edward Crouch appeared on BBC Radio Sussex yesterday (Wednesday, November 7), a day after Adur and Worthing councils’ cabinet members voted for alternate-weekly collections of rubbish and recycling from next year.Click here for the full story.

Drivetime host Sarah Gorrell noted how the Conservative Party had championed weekly refuse collections in election material and ‘mocked nearby councils who didn’t offer them’, asking ‘what’s changed’ since May.

Mr Crouch argued the national and local mood had changed, referencing public reaction to BBC documentary Blue Planet.

But asked why it was not the right time for change prior to the election just six months ago, he said: “I think the issue around recycling is an issue that’s been coming down the line and I think that certainly speaking personally I was very proud of being able to ensure that this weekly service existed – but if we never review our position on important matters such as the environment then we would still be burning coal in our homes, so I think there are certain decisions that are tough decisions and this is the right time to be making that decision.”

The councillor was again pressed on the timing of the decision.

The host asked whether the move was about ‘austerity’ and not about boosting recycling rates, which have remained stubbornly well below the 50 per cent target required by 2020.

Union claims over redundancies in the councils’ recycling team were also queried.

Mr Crouch said the election campaign had been ‘insightful’, with some residents explaining they no longer required weekly refuse collections.

But the cabinet member also noted recycling rates in the area had ‘plateaued’, adding: “The messaging around recycling has been ongoing since recycling’s existence and the education campaign has been an ongoing thing. Just by doing an education campaign you’d maybe see a bit of movement, a bit of an increase, but to go from 35 to 50 per cent you need to make significant changes.”

According to a report to the joint strategic committee on Tuesday, a move to alternate-weekly collections would prompt an estimated increase in recycling of between five to seven per cent.

With the district and borough’s combined recycling rate currently 36 per cent, the change would still leave the councils well short of the Government’s 50 per cent target.

The proposals are set to be introduced in September, 2019.

See the full BBC Sussex interview here, around 20 minutes into the broadcast.

Mr Crouch conducted a Facebook Live question and answer session yesterday. Visit his Facebook page here to view it.

See our comment piece prior to Tuesday’s decision here

Vote in our poll to have your say about the plans.