The following written deputation was submitted to the Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on 27 January 2022 in response to an item contained within the Committee’s Business Bulletin which covered an update to the Communal Bin (Hub) Project and the £7.7m grant from Zero Waste Scotland’s Recycling Improvement Fund.
The verbal deputation and discussion along with verbal deputations from Edinburgh World Heritage and the Cockburn Association, who supported the view of the community council, can also be viewed in the webcast of the meeting, starting at 5:45 minutes in.
(A note of caution – the full discussion on this topic runs for over an hour).
Deputation to the Transport & Environment Committee meeting : 27 January 2022 on item 6.1 Business Bulletin
Since April 2021 when the City of Edinburgh Council (“the Council”) made its original decision to impose Communal Bin Hubs right across the New Town, the Council has refused to consult, engage or listen to the residents, their associations, Community Councils and Heritage Organisations.
The Business Bulletin before the Transport and Environment Committee today (“TEC”) is just another example where the Council has, again, failed to listen to experts or those affected by its decisions. Based on lengthy interactions with Edinburgh World Heritage (“EWH”) and Historic Environment Scotland (“HES”), the Council had an opportunity to re-think its extremely unpopular policy and consider some small mitigating suggestions. But it has failed to do so, ignored the advice of these Heritage Organisations and taken a “we know best” approach.
The Business Bulletin misrepresents facts and has not fully explained the Heritage Organisations’ views. The Committee does not even have the opportunity today to debate the minimal amendments proposed by EWH and HES.
The Council have been made aware of the very strong objections there are to the decision to abandon doorstep collection of Gull-proof bags and recycling boxes. A recent survey carried out by Angus Robertson MSP (and Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture) shows that just over 90% of residents do not support the imposition of Communal Bin Hubs. This is supported by our own NTBCC online survey and a recent door-to-door poll on India Street. In addition, the Council’s ‘Information Events’ also demonstrated how opposed the New Town community is to these changes.
However, the Council continues to ignore those it represents.
Before dealing with the details of the Business Bulletin, it is important to remind the Committee, how it reached this current decision in April 2021.
- There was no consultation or even engagement with residents, residents’ associations, and community councils.
- There was no consultation or engagement with Heritage Organisations
- The Council has not conducted any impact assessments, despite the view of experts that such assessment should be carried out. It continues to refuse to conduct such assessments despite requests from EWH and HES.
New Town residents support the Council’s ambition of greater recycling, cleaner streets and less pollution. However, the way the Committee is taking these decisions is both undemocratic and lacking in transparency. As the Council will know, only too well, effective decision making involves and does not exclude those that are affected by its decisions.
Committee members will have received last week, our ‘Five-Year plan for Waste Management’ (attached to this deputation). This aims to approach the matter of waste and recycling in an imaginative way and looks to best practice nationally and internationally. The NTBCC wish to work with the Council to develop a system that not only carries the support of the community but also looks for a long-term and sustainable solution that will not permanently scar the streetscape of this beautiful City.
As a consequence, we are urging the Committee to just take a step back, pause and consider the lasting impact its decision will have on the unique heritage of Edinburgh. Once imposed, the Council will not be able to reverse its decision or if it did – it would again cost millions of pounds. Millions of pounds of public money.