Discussion Forum
Kerbside: write to Hazel Blears

From Barbara Green
Thursday, 2 October 2008

I hope that all those who feel as strongly as I do about the threat to Kerbside’s future will write letters to Hazel Blears in their own words, addressed to:

Rt Hon Hazel Blears,
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
Eland House
Bressenden Place

To make her aware of the strength of our feelings and the urgent need for her to take immediate action. May I suggest that you send me your letters by 13th October - Barbara Green, 32 Smithwell Lane, Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7NX so that I can pass them on to Chris McCafferty for her to send them to Hazel Blears without delay. Alternatively, you can email your letters direct to Chris McCafferty before 13th October.

Here is the letter I have written:

As one of Chris McCafferty’s constituents I am writing to you to put pressure on Calderdale Council to reinstate an organisation caled Kerbside as the official collectors of Calderdale’s recycling material, at present consisting of glass, newspaper and tins.

Kerbside is a small firm based in Luddenden Foot at Unit 11a, Station Road and headed by a man called Paul Brannigan. Its workforce is made up of unemployed men and men with learning difficulties. It is therefore a crucial part of the community and voluntary sector in Calderdale. Councils are quite properly expected to take into consideration this vital social element when awarding contracts for waste and recycling collection. Sadly, our Council did not make it mandatory to do so, and the present council ignored this obligation when awarding the next seven year contract earlier this year. For the past seven years waste has been collected by the Spanish firm Focsa who worked in partnership with Kerbside as an independent firm, and accordingly funded them on the basis that they collected th recycling material of 25,000 households in Calderdale. The arrangement worked perfectly and the Kerbside workforce did an excellent job to everybody’s complete satisfaction.

There was, and still is, huge support for Kerbside in this constituency, and the Council was urged on every side, including by large numbers of councillors themselves, to continue the existing arrangement. Instead, a small group of the most powerful councilors decided to award the contract to the giant French firm of SITA whose international reputation is not good when it comes to ethical practices and its treatment of its workforce. These councillors assured us that SITA had put in the best bid of the four who came forward, including a London company known to be punctilious about factoring in the social element when making employment decisions. However, these same councillors used a confidentiality clause to prevent the general public from finding out the exact nature of the different bids, and we do not know, therefore, whether SITA really did put in the most advantageous bid.

Once the decision had been made, Kerbside was hopeful that SITA would enter into a similar partnership with them as had existed with Focsa, but it turned out that SITA proposed to use Kerbside only if they were prepared to give up their independent status.

Kerbside decided to continue with their collections but with no further funding their finances will run out by Christmas. Householders were asked if they would make a contribution to Kerbside’s expenses and some of us do, but most householders not unnaturally think they should not have to pay for this service because waste disposal of every kind should be funded by the council.

At present we are in the ludicrous position of having black boxes to put our tins, bottles and papers in if we want Kerbside to continue, and green boxes which the Council has spent large amounts of council tax funds on to persuade us to use them instread. The danger is that in the confusion this creates, householders will decide not to bother at all and just put everything into their dustbins.

The European Union has stipulated that the UK must reach its recycled targets within an agree time span, but Calderdale is falling far short of its obligations in this respect now.

Gordon Brown used his conference speech to reaffirm his commitment to upholding the rights of the poorest members of our society. Kerbside gives employment and a sense of dignity to people who really are underprivileged, so I very much hope that you will find this a sufficient reason to use your considerable influence to bring about Kerbside’s immediate reinstatement as collectors of all our recycling material.

From Allen Keep
Friday, 10 October 2008

I fully support this campaign and I thought Barbara's letter was excellent. If this Government put the smallest fraction of the time and investment they have made in bailing out the already rich into supporting the disadvantaged this outrage would not take place. I have added my voice to what I hope will be many contacting Blears.

See previous Kerbside thread