Bridgend Bin Bags & Blue Badge Update

There are important updates on two controversial recommendations which are expected to be approved by Bridgend Council’s (BCBC) cabinet tomorrow afternoon.

The first are the results of the recent public consultation on changes to rubbish collections in the county (see also : Bridgend Bin Changes: Questions Remain Unanswered), the second being revised proposals relating to the introduction of car park charges for blue badge holders.

Two black bags per fortnight, per household (pdf)

Straight to the point : that’s the headline recommendation as a result of the public consultation on rubbish collections in Bridgend county. About 2,800 residents took part.

I’m not going to go too much into the background because I covered that in enough detail in January (linked earlier). Instead, I’m going to focus on how officers came to that recommendation and what measures they’re considering to address public concerns.

1. Changes to Black Bag Collections

The option to limit households to two black bags per fortnight was the most popular suggestion in the consultation, backed by 76% of people. Unlimited collections every four weeks were backed by 19%, while just 5% backed a limit of three black bags, collected every three weeks.

One of the main concerns raised about the two-bag limit were that some households would dump their own excess bags outside other homes. BCBC propose to, in their words, “review levels of enforcement” while specifically limiting the number of bags issued to households (which will have a unique design) to just 52 a year.

Refuse workers will then only collect bags with the right markings.
Excess bags would either be left at the kerbside, stickered, or the address recorded for a follow-up home visit.

A majority (60%) of respondents supported introducing wheely bins instead of bin bags – particularly young people – but BCBC rule them out as it would cost £2million over the length of a new refuse collection contract to issue them to every household. The bags remain.

2. Hygiene Product Collections

There was strong support for the proposal (70%), which will include nappies and incontinence pads. I don’t know if it includes tampons and sanitary pads too. These would be collected separately from other waste for those households who, it’s suggested, register with the contractor to use it. It’s estimated this measure alone will boost recycling rates by up to 1%.

3. Local Recycling Centres

73% of respondents were opposed to banning disposal of black bag rubbish at local recycling centres/civic amenity sites/“tips”.

As a compromise, BCBC propose that residents will still be able to dispose of black bag waste at their local tip, but will have to pre-sort their rubbish at the site and dispose of any recyclables in the containers provided.

If cabinet approves the measures as outlined, a new seven-year refuse collection contract will be put out for tender (under the new conditions) which will be effective from 1st April 2017.

Revised Blue Badge Car Park Charge Proposals (pdf)

As you’ll probably already know, BCBC have long-standing proposals to introduce parking charges for disabled and infirm blue badge holders, when they can currently park anywhere they want for free, usually for up to three hours.

The initial proposal was to introduce a a “buy one hour, get one hour free” charge to blue badge holders, accompanied by an 74% increase in the number of disabled parking spaces at major car parks in Bridgend and Porthcawl. There was some support for the idea, but the Bridgend Coalition for Disabled Peopleobjected, saying it was “cruel and unfair” to place additional burdens on the disabled in light of welfare cuts.

As a result of a second round of public consultation, BCBC have put forward six new options to deal with some of the issues raised. They are :

  • Option One – Blue badge holders will be able to park for free for up to three hours in designated disabled spaces, but if no disabled spaces are available, they’ll have to pay to park in a standard space on a “buy one hour, get one hour free” basis.
  • Option Two – The introduction of an annual charge/permit for blue badge holders to park (presumably unlimited) in council-run car parks. The permits would be issued to the badge holder, not tied to a vehicle registration. There are no details on how much it would cost yet.
  • Option Three – Blue badge holders who are also exempt from paying car tax (i.e. they receive certain benefits) will be able to park (presumably unlimited) in council-run car parks for free. Other blue badge holders would have to pay the standard parking fee.
  • Option Four – Blue badge holders will have to pay standard prices, but will get an extra 50% free; so if they pay to park for an hour they get an extra 30 minutes for free on top.
  • Option Five – The original proposal; blue badge holders will have to pay standard prices, but get an extra hour free.
  • Option Six – No concessions for blue badge holders, who will have to pay standard prices regardless of whether they park in a disabled space or not.

Option Six aside, each one has their own pros and cons. I’d lean towards Option Two because it would probably be less hassle for drivers and disabled passengers (but it could be more expensive for them if they don’t use car parks regularly) or the original Option Five.

Depending on which option is chosen following consultation, upgrades to pay and display machines will cost £71,000; but the original proposal projected blue badge parking charges would raise an extra £165,000 a year. It’s unclear what financial impact the new options would have.

Assuming cabinet approves the report, a consultation on the six revised options will start shortly.