Coun Dobson appears to misunderstand why he’s been accused of naivety in his failed bid for government funding for food waste collections and rails against the government for “letting down Leeds”.
It’s hugely disappointing that Leeds missed out on a share of the government’s fund for weekly bin collections. But to blame the government for treating Leeds unfairly is in this case simply wrong. In reality, the council’s bid was a poor one and didn’t meet the criteria plainly set out by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary.
For years Mr Pickles has bellowed loudest that it’s the right of every Englishman to have his rubbish collected by his local council every week.
So if he then goes and creates a pot of money for councils to keep weekly black bin collections, you can be pretty sure that’s what it’s for. Yet Leeds City Council seemed to think the Secretary of State meant the opposite of what he said and decided to bid for a share of this cash with a proposal to cut our black bin collections in half alongside introducing food waste collections. It’s hardly surprising the government turned us down.
It’s pretty clear that if we’d bid for an expansion of food waste collections whilst retaining a weekly black bin collection, we’d probably have got what we were asking for. We can only look with envy at the likes of Birmingham, who bid for over £30m from the fund and got it, because they grasped the idea that retaining weekly black bin collections ought to be in their bid somewhere.
The vast majority of councils applying for this fund were successful, so no one can claim we were unlucky. We missed out on £14m because we submitted a bad bid.
We all know Coun Dobson is convinced of the virtues of fortnightly collections and I admire his willingness to repeatedly argue his case, regardless of the opposition it provokes.
The accusation of naivety comes from the assumption that because he is convinced, the government ought to be too, even when it is offering hundreds of millions of pounds to pursue the opposite policy.
Unfortunately this attitude has seen the council miss out on £14m and left households facing the prospect of cuts to their bin service when it should have been improved.
Cllr Stewart Golton, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Rothwell Ward, Leeds City Council