Michael Fabricant Possibly Didn’t Like the Blue Bags Either?

Very topical this week (it being windier outside than standing in the vicinity of a Ron Brown rant) is the scourge of the blue bags used for our recycling. Many of us have got used to and accept the blue bags as the ‘new normal’ (that pandemic phrase used to include us all happily working from home, our employees at Debunking Towers are chained to their desks out of personal preference). But they are still causing problems for many, and we’ve learned it might not have had to be that way.

Former Leader of Tamworth Borough Council Danny Cook, now leader of the ill fated Independent Future Group (who are likely not to exist in May) presided over the introduction of the blue bags alongside colleague John Chesworth (both pictured above) who was in charge of all things refuse related at the time. We are told that the Conservative group who ultimately decided whether to press ahead with the new scheme were actually sold a fait accompli as it has already been ‘cooked up’ between the pair and officers before it was presented to the group. In fact it gets better than that, the Council had been signed up to this scheme before anyone else had even discussed it.

The little knowing Conservative group were told the dire consequences of choosing any other option other than the one predetermined. This ended up being the blue bag scheme we have now, which as you can see in our screenshot is still going down a treat. Even we have previously mentioned it on one of our fledgling stories. We are told that whilst there was some push back from certain group members at the time, there was trust in their leader, and as such they pushed forward with the scheme, having absolutely no clue they were in fact deciding on nothing.

So what were the alternatives? We understand that there was a better option to keep things almost as they were. Here below is a table from the presentation given to Councillors at the time, showing what we could have had. It’s all public, naturally it went under the radar.

You can look at these figures and wonder why anyone of sound mind would sign up to option 5, which is what Tamworth ended up with. Sadly the Councillors at that cabinet meeting which funnily enough Cook was absent from, hadn’t any choice but cement the scheme into place.

We understand that after the decision had been made to go ahead, the scheme was called into the councils Infrastructure Safety and Growth committee in 2021 by the chairman, a Tory group member who was presumably one of those unhappy with what was to come. We understand no-one particularly was comfortable with the decision, especially considering it was being announced before the local elections.

Tamworth was also promised a review of the service in 2022 in light of concerns raised, which to our knowledge has never happened, at least publicly. Pushback on the scheme, and the fact the bags were a third smaller than ordered and expected, was worse in neighbouring Lichfield (which administrates the scheme as part of a cost saving Joint Waste Management service), where there were calls for the Waste Portfolio Holder in Lichfield to quit.

Considering that most people’s interactions and expectations of their Council is that their bins are emptied efficiently, and they’re paying for the service. It seems that the mark was missed considerably on this occasion. Tamworth could have had a recycling scheme pretty much the same as it already had, with two bins, at a little more upfront cost perhaps, but less ongoing risk financially and no bothersome bags. Maybe it’s about time our incumbent Councillors took a long hard look at the scheme again before the electorate put the wind up them.

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