During a recent full council meeting on Thursday, January 25, Conservative representatives at Cardiff Council, led by a council member, encountered resistance in their efforts to overturn contentious plans for a three-weekly black bin bag collection. The proposal, which also featured an adjustment from the Liberal Democrats group, urged a reassessment of waste collection plans, resistance to a proposed separate fee for garden waste collections, and the preservation of public bins on residential streets.
Addressing the council, the leading representative acknowledged financial pressures but advocated for a strategic approach, stating, “If certain service areas are under financial strain, it would be wise to adjust spending in other areas while exploring avenues to increase revenue.”
Expressing dissatisfaction, another council member deemed the proposal to collect black bin bags once every three weeks as “peculiar.” The concerns raised included overflowing bins, competition for bin space in flats, and an upsurge in vermin, accusing the council of fostering an “untidy city.”
Cardiff Council’s waste collection plans are part of a broader strategy to address a £30m budget gap. These proposals are currently undergoing public consultation, and a final decision on the budget is anticipated in March this year.
A former leader of the Conservative group at Cardiff Council expressed concerns about the potential impact on city centre streets if the waste collection proposals are implemented. Rejecting the argument that other local authorities follow similar practices, the representative asserted, “Just because it is beneficial for one authority in North Wales or elsewhere, it doesn’t necessarily work for Cardiff.”
The proposed reduction in black bin bag collections aims to enhance recycling rates among residents, but the leader of the Liberal Democrats group dismissed it as a “costing exercise,” contending that it primarily focuses on saving money rather than significantly increasing recycling rates.
The Conservative group suggested an alternative solution to close the budget gap – retaining 100% of the non-domestic rates collected by the council. However, a council member responsible for finance dismissed this idea as a “fantasy.” He explained that retaining business rates without redistributing them to other authorities in the UK would be irresponsible and untenable.
A key point of contention emerged regarding the council’s increased borrowing to fund the construction of a new 15,000-seat indoor arena in Butetown. An adjustment by the Liberal Democrats drew attention to the potential impact on the revenue budget and frontline services. The council member questioned the timing and affordability of the arena project in the current budget context.
A council member responsible for investment and development expressed disappointment at what was labelled as councillors’ “complete failure to understand how public finances work.” The emphasis was placed on the importance of job creation to support public services, stating, “The more people contributing to the system, the more resources there are in the system to deliver those services.”
As Cardiff Council continues to grapple with the challenge of balancing its budget amid diverse opinions and proposals, the fate of the controversial three-weekly bin collections remains uncertain. The public consultation process will play a crucial role in shaping the final decision in March, with residents and stakeholders eagerly awaiting the outcome.