Burnley Council believes reintroducing community skips scheme would be a waste of resources

A bid to reinstate a community skips scheme in Burnley is likely to prove fruitless.

Wednesday, 6th February 2019, 9:18 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:53 pm
Burnley Council's next Executive meeting will take place on Monday

Coun. Tom Commis raised a motion at a Burnley Council meeting before Christmas urging the council to reintroduce the scheme which was axed in 2017.

But a report to the council’s executive, which meets on Monday, recommends the scheme should not be reinstated because of increased financial costs.

The programme was suspended after a blaze at TCS Waste in Great Harwood which caused damage totalling £250,000.

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The fire wrecked five skip wagons, other machinery, and saw industrial buildings requiring reconstruction.

Head of Streetscene Joanne Swift said: “In August 2015, the council was notified by the skip provider that there had been a significant fire at the facility.

“Widespread damage had occurred and it was alleged that the fire had emanated from a council operated skip. Whilst the investigation and case has subsequently been concluded with no liability being placed on the council, the immediate suspension and review of the scheme, ultimately led to the council looking to deliver community recycling engagement via different mechanisms.

“In March 2017 the council’s executive approved the Needs Led Community Clean Up Education Initiative and the community skip scheme was dis-established.”

She added fly-tipping in the borough had actually fallen since the skip scheme was scrapped, from 4,663 in 2014/15 and 5,962 in 2015/16 to 3,101 in 2016/17 and 2,660 last year.

“It is recommended that the council strengthens its existing targeted ward interventions, within existing officer and operational budget resources, to deliver alternative additional environmental activities to wards and residents that require additional support with recycling and household waste collections.

“This approach will co-ordinate events and activities that aim to respond to local priorities and will align with existing Urbaser resources and existing third sector organisations to remove and upcycle reusable/unwanted household items.

“Associated operational costs to deliver a community skip scheme have increased significantly, rendering the motion to reinstate cost prohibitive.

“There is no local evidence to support a business case for the re-establishment of the provision of skips that will require increased investment at current costs.

“There is no evidence to support that the provision of community skips increases resident participation in household recycling or reduces fly tipping.”

A Burnley Council spokesman added: “The council’s executive has fully considered all the evidence around the proposed reinstatement of a community skip scheme in the borough.

“Having looked at this in-depth the executive is recommended not to reinstate the scheme.

“There is an increasing drive worldwide to move away from being a ‘throw away’ society and promoting recycling and re-use. Community skips, where people can simply throw away anything with little consideration or effort, go against this ideal.

“The council has introduced targeted initiatives with officers working closely with residents to provide extra street cleaning, organise community litter picks and take enforcement action with positive results.

“There is no evidence to show that community skips encourage greater recycling by residents or reduce fly-tipping; in fact, the number of fly-tipping incidents has almost halved since the skips were stopped.

“Reinstating the scheme would be expensive, between an estimated £46,600 and £54,400 a year and would mean resources being diverted from other services.

“Finally, the county council as the disposal authority has confirmed that it would not cover the cost of disposing of rubbish from each skip unless recyclable materials are separated, requiring at least three skips at each location, and a council officer was on site throughout to prevent contamination by unwanted or even potentially hazardous items.

“For all these reasons it’s felt that community skips should not be reinstated.”