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Calls for cabinet member to be sacked over ‘blue sack fiasco’ in Brent

There are calls for a Brent councillor to be sacked after the roll out of a new recycling scheme has been dubbed an ‘utter fiasco’.

Many households in Brent have been given a new 90 litre blue sack only for card and paper, a plan which some have described as ‘ridiculous’.

Residents living in properties with blue-lidded bins have been required to separate their card and paper from other recycling items, such as glass, metal, and plastic, into the new 90-litre blue sacks since October 1. Collections have also been reduced from weekly to fortnightly as part of the council’s goal of being “carbon neutral by 2030”.

However, residents have been complaining on social media about the scheme for months, with many criticising the sack for not having enough capacity for the waste, it breaking easily, and having to bring it back inside when it’s been raining. A petition to scrap the scheme has already been signed by more than 1,300 residents.

Opposition councillors are now calling for the Cabinet Member for Environment, Infrastructure and Climate Action, Cllr Krupa Sheth, to be sacked.

Brent Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Anton Georgiou, claims to have been sceptical of the new approach from the start and called the implementation an “utter fiasco”. He said: “It is clear that it hasn’t [worked], and things will only get worse. [Cllr Sheth] should be sacked.”

Calls for cabinet member to be sacked over 'blue sack fiasco' in Brent Harrow Online
Anton Georgiou. Cllr Anton Georgiou has called the new recycling scheme an \”utter fiasco\”. Image Credit: Brent Council. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

He added: “Over the past few weeks, I’ve received complaints from residents detailing missed collections, bags getting full after just one week and even from some who are yet to even receive their blue bag.”

He added: “Local WhatsApp and Facebook groups, as well as neighbourhood app Nextdoor, are full of comments from disgruntled residents who cannot see the logic behind the changes and are already seeing that they are not working in practice.”

Brent Council has acknowledged that there have been “teething issues” with the new service as people adjust but assured residents that the scheme will “improve recycling rates” and contribute to helping the environment. However, Cllr Georgiou has called it “ill thought through and unnecessary”.

He said: “The changes could actually achieve the opposite and will in time need to be phased out if things continue to go so badly. Blue bags will go missing, they will break, recyclable material will be placed in general waste bins when bags get full.”

He added: “We felt that the only way changes to recycling collection could work was if the council invested heavily in an education campaign that helped residents to understand why they were being made. We also believed that if residents were to be asked to separate recyclables, that a sufficient additional wheelie bin should be provided to households who needed it, instead of the flimsy blue bags […].

“It is essential that we increase our borough’s recycling rate. This will be a key component in achieving Climate Emergency objectives. However, this needs to be done in the right way and with residents on board. Labour’s blue bag system has not worked and could actually move us further away from these important targets.”

Brent Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that it is “monitoring the roll out of the new service closely” and listening to all feedback so it can “identify any further improvements that can be made”.

Cllr Sheth said: “Thank you to all residents who have taken part in this change in how we collect your recycling, it has meant we have been able to collect a higher quality of paper and cardboard. Whilst it is too early to know the full picture of how the changes have affected recycling rates, our trial of over 5,000 properties last year showed an increase in recycling, which is better for the environment and our planet.”

She added: “We also took on board feedback from residents who took part, who asked for bigger blue bags and we have made them fully sealable. Residents are able to order a replacement or additional blue sack if it is needed on our website.”

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