Thursday, 29 January 2009

Kerbside are writing to all Calderdale councillors and the two Calderdale MPs urging them to take action to ensure the survival of our local award winning recycling organisation.

Kerbside (Calderdale) is a social enterprise who have collected recycling from the kerbside for 10 years and in turn recycles disadvantaged people whose talents would otherwise lie in waste.

Calderdale Council, effectively, ended the arrangement to pay recycling credits on the 31st July 08 and engaged corporate waste company Sita to replace Kerbside (Calderdale).

Kerbside public meeting

Part of the public meeting in Mytholmroyd, November 2008
- photo: Jason Elliott

The whole community has backed Kerbside to continue collecting and they have followed that mandate. Since August 2008, over 200 tons a month collected by the community are not being logged against the UK’s recycling target.

Kerbside would like to sell these recycling credits to other local authorities that may be underperforming. There is a similar precedent in that LATS allowances (credits) can be traded.

Firstly, here is the letter written by Kerbside's Director Christopher Haddock to Calderdale councillors. He points out that Kerbside's existence is now threatened because of falling prices for recycling materials. He argues that elected representatives cannot ignore the massive public support for Kerbside and calsl on them to represent the interests and wishes of their constituents. 

Here is the letter:

27th January 2009

Dear Councillor

I am writing to you, on behalf of the board, employees, volunteers and trainees at Kerbside.

We have been appreciative of the varying levels of support from a number of your colleagues but the time has now come for all councillors to become more pro-active in resolving the situation in which we find ourselves.

Kerbside is facing extinction in the very near future due to a combination of falling prices for recycling materials and the fact that our accumulated recycling credits have not found a ready market – previously they were purchased by FOCSA as part of its contractual agreement with our company. 

The Kerbside service enjoys the loyal support of the 25,000 households it serves.  They have stubbornly refused to use the green recycling box purchased by the council and distributed by SITA.  Our organisation is also supported by Calderdale residents generally and has generated interest beyond the confines of the borough. 

We would assert that elected representatives cannot ignore such depth of feeling and still claim to be fulfilling their role. We now call on them to represent the interests and wishes of their constituents. 

It has been asserted by representatives of the council that the difficulty lies in the failure of Kerbside and SITA to find common ground but the key problem here is that we do not have a contract with SITA and cannot take direct action against them to enforce the clause in the contract that requires them to involve a social enterprise in their waste management service.

That is a matter for the Council but, to date, nothing of any effect has occurred and, presently, we appear left with no alternative but to commence legal proceedings against Calderdale MBC which, of course, has implications for both its officers and elected members. 

SITA was appointed as waste contractor as a result of a vote by the council as a whole.  Some councillors have said that they did not envisage the consequences of this vote for Kerbside and we have some sympathy with this as we were also led to believe that we would be able to work with the new contractor as we had with the previous one. 

We have been attempting to confirm what actually transpired but, at this time, it appears that SITA’s sidelining of Kerbside was achieved in the course of their communication with cabinet members and the Chief Executive’s Office. 

We have reason to believe that SITA, and at least one other bidder, was invited to tender two bids – one based on the inclusion of Kerbside and one based on the provision of a waste service without the inclusion of Kerbside (or any other social enterprise organisation). 

We assert that this process rendered the clause, requiring the involvement of a social enterprise, meaningless and, therefore, the responsibility for our imminent demise must lie with the local authority.

In the course of consultation and discussion we have noted a tendency for members and officers to lay blame elsewhere. However, we would assert that the responsibility lies with you and your colleagues and we must insist that you use your power and influence appropriately. 

It is not our intention to advise you regarding the specific action you should pursue but a common target of criticism has been the cabinet or cabinet system with the implication that this is something beyond the control of ordinary council members. Well, as they have discovered at other councils, this is not the case – particularly where the opposition parties can combine to pass a vote of no confidence in the cabinet and take over control of the council. 

We would like to think that, between now and the next full council meeting, councillors will have time to consider their position collectively and individually and respond not only to this entreaty but also to the concerns of an overwhelming number of their constituents. 

We are, as always, available to meet with anyone who wishes to speak with us.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Haddock,
Director, Kerbside

These are the questions which Kerbside would like our local MPs, Linda Riordan and Christine McCafferty to raise in Parliament:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his department’s policy is on the payment of recycling credits to 3rd party collectors who collect material from the kerbside in one local authority area, but send the material to a neighbouring local authority area who are willing to pay a recycling credit and claim the recycling within their reported recycling rate and DEFRA’s WasteDataFlow system, and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what he proposes to do to ensure that the 1/3 of all household recycling collected at the kerbside in Calderdale MBC, which is currently collected by a community supported social enterprise, where the local authority refuses to pay a recycling credit to is counted by DEFRA in its WasteDataFlow system and therefore contributes to the national recycling rate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the recycling situation in Calderdale Metropolitan Borough and if he will make a statement.

See also

Hebweb News: Talks break down: Sita reject Kerbside (Dec 08)

Hebweb Forum - Kerbside, what next?

Hebweb News: Kerbside: the gloves are off - report of public meeting of 29th November (Nov 09)

Kerbside website

Hebweb Forum - Barbara Green's plea to write to Hazel Blears

Hebweb News: Halifax demonstration (July 2008)

We try to make sure that the Hebden Bridge Web news is correct,
but if you are aware of any errors or omissions, please email us

If you have comments on Hebweb news please make
a contribution to our discussion forum

More news

© Hebden Bridge Web