Monday, November 8, 2010

Realism and Denial at the Guildhall

I don't think much of the way the Lib Dems run Cambridge City Council; their approach to growth, planning and transport are wrecking the city and their fortnightly bin collections, relentlessly-increasing council tax and approach to 'affordable' housing are not helpful.

But the realistic attitude towards the need to rationalise public spending they have adopted since the formation of the coalition is commendable. It's certainly a refreshing change from the fantasy economics of just a penny on income tax to solve all ills that we are used to from the Liberal Democrats.

The mantle of denial about public finances is taken up by Cambridge Labour, whose budget amendments have often attracted Conservative approval in the past. Sadly today's debate on the Medium Term Strategy descended into national party political point scoring by Coleridge's new Labour councillor and other Labour councillors.

Labour councillors presented no alternatives and made no constructive suggestions for improvements to the strategy, except possibly on homelessness, but that sounded more like a scaremongering dig about changes to housing benefit.

We really do need better debate than this at the city council, and I urge Cambridge residents to support Conservative candidates at the next local elections to ensure a centre-right common sense voice on the council.

So I support the plans in the main, but would entreat the council to look afresh at all parts of spending, making sure we are only doing what benefits residents - start by dismantling apparatus focused on satisfying former government targets.


John Lawton said...

What is the problem with the city bin collections? Wrecking? Waste is collected every week, but it needs some pre-sorting by residents. It isn't hard to do, except I suppose for confirmed slobs. Slobs should vote Tory?

Andrew Bower said...

No problem with the pre-sorting, the problem is with the frequency of collection of each bin.

In particular, the food waste either has to be left out for two weeks or half of it has to go into the residual waste, which is a missed opportunity for recycling.

For many people waste collection is the only visible manifestation of their district council's responsibilities and so they rightly wonder why they get such a poor service for their money.

I advocate initially introducing weekly collections for the green bins, possibly even only for the summer months. A number of councils have already done this

As for the cost, bear in mind the reduction in land fill costs and taxes that would result and potential income from the compost.

But as for only being a problem for 'confirmed slobs', is that not a little offensive towards the people who find it physically difficult and worry about getting it wrong, like some elderly?