The decision by the ABC shadow council services committee to end the four weekly bin collection trial in Banbridge from April 1 has sparked a mixed reaction.
The move has been welcomed by David Simpson MP, along with activists who lobbied against the trial under the Bin Action Group banner, but, countering campaigners’ arguments, the council presented findings to show merit in the system prompting proponents, including John McCallister MLA, to express disappointment that the trial is to be scrapped.
A Banbridge council statement said the decision was taken in recognition of the fact that the scheme was clearly communicated as a ‘trial’ and is significantly different from the situation across the rest of the new council area.
At the meeting on Wednesday, March 4, the Council presented the evaluation of the trial following an independent survey. Shadow Councillors were informed of the findings, which the council said showed it is a viable way of reducing the cost of waste processing.
Outlining the findings the council said the trial had secured significant support among residents, with 92% now saying that they always or usually recycle compared to 62% before the trial, and 69% agreeing that they would be happy to recycle more through the trial bin collection model if it helps to save money that can be reinvested in other service areas and assist in minimising rates bill rises.
The decision to end the four weekly collection, however, was taken in recognition of the fact that the scheme was clearly communicated as a ‘trial’ and is significantly different from the situation across the rest of the new council area.
Chair of the Banbridge District Council Environmental Services Committee, councillor Olive Mercer, expressed great pride that one of the most significant legacies that Banbridge will be handing to the new council is a culture of environmental excellence, while Banbridge Council Chairman, councillor Marie Hamilton thanked all householders who participated so enthusiastically in the trial.
Stating that a door to door survey had showed fundamental flaws with trial, Mr David Simpson MP has welcomed the decision to end the trial.
“This is a good outcome for the people of Banbridge. It is clear that Banbridge has and continue to lead the way on recycling but this move was too much too soon.
“The data gathered will be extremely useful going forward however our party remain sceptical of the overall results presented.”
The ABC Bin Action Group have also welcomed the decision.
“In the end we believe that common sense prevailed and councillors started to recognise the mood of the community who have consistently pointed out the many flaws in what was an ill-thought-out waste collection scheme.
“We are aware that each political party as well as Banbridge District Council itself will put their own spin on proceedings to save face, however the bottom line is that no matter how much praise they had for the four week scheme, the fact is it was not being accepted by the public.”
Opinion is fiercely divided though with John McCallister MLA, Independent Unionist for South Down, criticising the decision by the Council to end the trial, describing it as a wasted opportunity.
Mr McCallister, a Banbridge ratepayer said: “When this policy was announced I will admit I was as sceptical as anyone.
“However, I have been proven wrong, it has been a roaring success.”