A row could be brewing within the new supercouncil after Banbridge opted this week to extend its controversial once-a-month rubbish bin collection.
The signs are that parties like the UUP, Sinn Fein and SDLP in ABC will retain an open mind on the proposals but the ‘MAIL’ understands the DUP are sceptical.
It’s hoped the scheme will encourage recycling by collecting non-recyclable waste less often.
Banbridge District Council – which joins next April with Craigavon and Armagh – ignored an angry protest of ratepayers and over 2,000 objections, expanding the scheme from areas like Gilford and Poyntzpass to other districts within their council area.
A delegation of 190 protestors wanted to attend Monday night’s meeting in Banbridge, but only 30 were allowed in. And the monthly collection was supported by UUP Councillor Carol Black, who is part of the new ABC set-up and by Councillor John Hanna (also UUP) who did not contest the ABC election in May this year. It is reported to be the only monthly collection in Northern Ireland and perhaps the UK.
Mrs Black told the meeting that she took objection to the protestors suggesting she did not listen to public opinion and Mr Hanna suggested the group were “Luddites”.
The protest was led by Banbridge resident Paul Scappaticci, who held aloft a petition, adding there had been an on-line protest.
However, it cut little ice with the council – nor with environmental services director David Lindsay who said that it would help them meet their recycling targets and would save £330,000 if rolled out.
The SDLP’s Joe Nelson (Craigavon) said that Banbridge’s environmental services department had a good track record, “and with recycling the way to go, they are certainly worth listening to.”
Veteran UUP Councillor Jim Speers (Armagh) said that the scheme was worth looking at, adding, “Banbridge have done their homework and it’s up to them to expand on the point.”
The DUP, though, have not discussed the issue within their party set-up, and it is thought they prefer to maintain the fortnightly collection. But they are a minority of 13 within the ABC ‘shadow’ council and their influence is not as strong as in Craigavon.
Banbridge council had been trialling the once-per-month black bin collections in the Gilford, Loughbrickland and Poyntzpass areas since January.
The idea is to encourage householders to recycle more using the green bin, and to throw less into the black one.
It is expected to continue until at least spring next year, when the new supercouncil – covering Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – will begin getting fully up-and-running.