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New plea to restore weekly bin collections amid virus lockdown

Environment chief says service has 'held up well' amid Covid pressure

19 January, 2021 — By Richard Osley

Henry Newman, pictured in a Town Hall debate before the pandemic

THE Town Hall was asked again to restore weekly bin collections across the borough as the Tories warned that households were creating more waste while locked down at home.

In a long-running theme, the Conservatives remain critical of Camden’s decision to reduce some refuse pick-ups to once a fortnight and Frognal and Fitzjohns councillor Henry Newman raised the issue again at last night’s (Monday’s) full council meeting.

He said: “One of our particular concerns has been, inevitably with people locked down at home, is that there’s been a huge increase in the volume of domestic waste that everybody’s producing. I think it’d be incumbent on the council to think again about whether we could return to the weekly collections.”

Cllr Newman, a government adviser in his professional life away from the Town Hall, said that Camden also needed more litter bins.

“I’m concerned that particularly with people wearing masks and other items of PPE [personal protective equipment] on their travels are dropping them on the floor or worse: Putting them into recycling bins, and then polluting the overall recycling,” he told the meeting.

“I’m worried both from health point of view but also on our ability to make sure we don’t have contaminated waste.”

Camden’s changed its arrangement with contractor Veolia so that there were less refuse collections at residents’ homes but more recycling pickups, with officers and council chiefs warning that many items that were being thrown in the rubbish could have been recycled.

It also saved money with the change in 2017, but the issue – and demands to restore weekly pickups – has consistently been at the top of the local Tories’ agenda.

Cllr Newman with his ‘belfies’ – bin selfies

Cllr Newman has often taken a photograph of himself next to fly-tipping over the years to show social media followers what he thinks is the result of fewer collections.

Camden’s environment chief Labour councillor Adam Harrison said: “Overall, the services held up well over the last year despite the challenges of Covid. It is true that within the last couple of months, things have gotten more difficult in terms of staff presence and that’s because of Covid – because people are either affected directly by Covid or their families are.

“So it’s something we’re keeping a close eye on, but the service is continuing to work hard to maintain the standards that people expect.”

Cllr Harrison added: “With the change in patterns of behaviour, the service has managed to maintain the waste collections and recycling collections. And in terms of litter bins and their locations, that’s something that’s always open for review.”

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