Brighton’s problems with waste and recycling collections are getting worse, but continental-style underground super-bins being rolled out in Liverpool could offer a solution.
Under this Council, the city has a poor record on rubbish collection, with its unreliable bin collection service causing no end of frustration to residents. The council’s recycling rate has recently been ranked as one of the worst of any councils in the UK, with no sign of improvement.
It has now been one year since the last bin strikes in Brighton & Hove (which took place from 5-19 October 2021). It has been revealed that the behind-closed doors Green-Labour deal with the unions to end last year’s industrial dispute will cost local taxpayers an additional £859,000 every year going forward in additional payments to City Clean. However one year on from this deal, the service has got worse, not better.
Councillor Nick Lewry raised the issue at the recent Council meeting, providing evidence that some areas of Hangleton have had 13 missed collections so far this year. Cllr Lewry said that the council had provided residents with a range of excuses for these 13 missed collections, including electric bin vehicles not being charged up, bin vehicles breaking down mid round, or even the weather being too hot.
Once missed, these rounds are never caught up, leaving residents with the option of a personal trip to one of the City’s two tips, or to put up with overflowing bins for another week with a hope that the following week’s collection will work out.
In areas that rely on large communal bins, the result of missed collections is particularly unpleasant. Overflowing Communal bins attract rats and sometimes bin fires, detracting from the amenity of the areas. Communal bins themselves are often covered in graffiti, stickers and posters and look unsightly, detracting from the neighbourhood. This in turn degrades the state of the city, leaving a bad impression on tourists and impacting its reputation. Cllr Lewry cleaned up one communal bin close to Hangleton Community Centre which had been left overflowing by the Council, on the day the community were gathering to watch the Queen’s funeral.
This week the Conservatives put forward a proposal to solve the menace of unsightly communal bins: to investigate the introduction of underground superbins. These iceberg-like bins, which have recently been rolled out across Liverpool, are common in cities across Europe where they have been used for many years.
The question of underground bins arises from time to time with many residents in favour. Discussions often arise following trips to clean and tidy European capitals and other tourist destinations, with a description over how simple, clean and attractive the underground bins can be compared to overground alternatives.
These super-bins are iceberg-like in nature. Above ground is usually a receptacle approximately resembling a standard small street bin. Below though is something much larger. A standard large communal bin in Brighton & Hove has a capacity of 1,100 litres. Most, including even the brand new ones, are covered in graffiti and stickers, and are likely to be broken in some way. An underground super-bin, and they come in various forms, can have a capacity of 5,000 litres. The ugly waste, and smells therefrom, are hidden away. And there is then of course less to vandalise too as the above-ground receptable is much smaller and invariably tougher.
The underground bins are removed into a lorry by a crane drop mechanism, which takes approximately 10 minutes.
Liverpool’s super-bin initiative has made the national news recently and has ultimately inspired Cllr Nemeth’s proposal. Like Brighton & Hove, Liverpool suffers from vandalism and fly-tipping. Liverpool Council has taken decisive action to get to grips with the issue, as we should do here.
Certain pieces of street furniture can have a huge negative impact on people’s lives. For example, residents have this week spoken out about the impact on their amenity of having huge cycle hangars suddenly installed outside their houses. Such hangers have already been covered in graffiti, similar to the communal bins.
Super-bins however would have a positive impact on people’s lives, bringing rubbish underground and out of sight.
Cllr Nemeth called for a report to examine costs and other important issues and was successful. Brighton and Hove City Council will now investigate the Liverpool model and see if it could be brought in here.
It is a small step towards getting this city’s rubbish problems under control. Plenty needs to be done as there have been many years of bad performance by this Green-Labour Council, which never gets on top of the issues.
The Greens and Labour, with their focus elsewhere, have failed to deliver basic services in this city. Addressing this must be the primary concern of the next City Council.