Brown bins aim for the summer

CRAIGAVON councillors are united in their efforts to make sure every ratepayer in the borough is given the option of a brown bin in time for the summer.

However, they’ve been warned by the Director of Environmental Services that making this proposal a reality could prove “extremely difficult”.

At Monday night’s council meeting a DUP motion was put forward to roll out brown bins across the entire borough by April this year.

In proposing the motion Councillor Mark Baxter said it represented “fairness and equality for ratepayers”.

He said brown bins were the single biggest issue he encountered when canvassing for the last election.

Mr Baxter said he appreciated there would be costs, but that there was never a better time to do it. He added that householders should be offered the brown bin in the first instance and be allowed to opt out.

“Let’s send a clear message out that Craigavon Borough Council is delivering for the ratepayer and that we no longer accept that bin provision is on the basis of some sort of postcode lottery,” he said.

Fellow DUP councillor Robert Smith said one of the success stories of Craigavon Council had been its brown bin collection. He suggested taking brown bins off people who don’t need them to reduce procurement costs.

SDLP Councillor Joe Nelson supported the motion as did Councillor Kenneth Twyble of the UUP. Mr Nelson commented: “I support the motion in principle, but I think a little bit more homework needs to be done.”

Sinn Fein’s Gemma McKenna said: “My party is in total agreement with this motion. We’ve been calling for this in recent years. In terms of equality people should be given the choice.”

She proposed an amended version of the DUP motion to state the item would be brought before the next meeting of the Environmental Services committee.

Alliance’s Conrad Dixon said giving everyone a brown bin should be a priority for the council.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said: “It’s been an issue since I came on council 11 years ago. Given that Craigavon Council in all likelihood won’t exist in a couple of years we need to make this a priority.”

Alderman Sydney Anderson said a full roll out of brown bins could easily be justified given the expenditure in other areas. He added that it was important that people living in rural areas were given value for money for their rates.

Councillor Liam Mackle asked: “Would it be possible to have it ready for this summer and is there any idea of likely costs and implications for ratepayers?”

Environmental Services Director Lorraine Crawford replied: “It would be extremely difficult to do within that timescale. There are currently 22,000 households with brown bins and 16,000 without.

“To carry out a procurement of that kind in time for this summer would be extremely difficult. It would also impact the route optimisation process which has been based on the number of bins currently in use.”

All 24 councillors voted in favour of the amended proposal to bring the item before the next meeting of the Environmental Services committee.