Petition of more than 7,000 against £2.4m bin swap submitted by John Leech

  • Yesterday, Cllr. John Leech submitted a residents' petition of more than 7,000 against the recent decision to reduce the sizes of Manchester bins.
  • John Leech continued to press for answers from the council who spent £2.4 million on the new smaller bins.
  • Rusholme campaign group say they have been 'palmed off' by Manchester council.
  • Leech has called on the council to 'apologise for the expensive fiasco.' 

Yesterday, Cllr. John Leech submitted a residents' petition of more than 7,000 against Labour’s recent decision to reduce the size of Manchester bins calling on the council to 'apologise for the expensive fiasco.' 

Earlier this year Manchester City Council voted to reduce the size of household bins from 240 litres to 140 litres. Mr Leech was the only councillor to vote against the proposals that cost the local authority more than £2.4m at a time when the council claims to be experiencing ‘deep cuts’ to funding. 

In the scrutiny meeting, the city’s sole opposition member, Cllr. John Leech, suggested swapping the current brown recycling bin (140 litres) with the grey general waste bin (240 litres) in an effort to save the council £2.4m.

The Labour council ignored the proposal.

Mr Leech said: “I absolutely accept and support the need to encourage increased recycling, but for some households this is going to be a massive inconvenience and could cause infestations when overflowing bins are not collected.

“The voices of 7,000 local residents must not be ignored. As local councillors we answer to the residents of Manchester and we have a duty to respond to this petition properly.”

The petition reads: “This petition is presented on behalf of Manchester City Council residents who vehemently object to the Council’s undemocratic decision to implement the imposition of smaller general waste bins. It is ongoing and further signatures will be presented at a later date.”

It adds that residents believe that the size change: “will have a negative impact on the business community of Manchester with residents dumping their additional waste in company bins, in order to avoid fines, which could have the knock on effect of increasing business rates.”

More than 7,000 residents have already signed the petition and signatures are still being collected.

In the full council meeting on Wednesday, the former Manchester Withington MP continued to push for answers despite the hostility directed at him. 

He asked firstly to Cllr. Nigel Murphy: “How many complaints have been received by the Council relating to the removal of the 240 litre general refuse bins and the delivery of the new 140 litre bins?"

Following this up, Mr Leech asked the Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, Mr Murphy, to 'apologise for the expensive fiasco' and 'come clean about the real reason for the change'.

As has become almost ritual in Manchester Council meetings, rather than directly answering Mr Leech's question, Cllr. Nigel Murphy, mocked: 'Ohh, nothing fails to amaze me' before going on to personally attack Mr Leech and his suggestion.

Mr Murphy's sarcastic answer was met with a loud round of applause and echoing cheers from the entire chamber.

Mr Leech continued his questioning adding: "Hopefully we can get some slightly more serious responses going forward."

Rusholme Community Traders Association (RCTA) wrote to Cllr. Paula Sadler outlining their concerns across several areas. They received a response consisting of just four sentences. Ms Sadler said: “While you make some very good points and concerns, I feel it is a fate accomplished.”

Members of the RCTA group have already raised concerns about an increase in fly-tipping and say residents weren’t properly consulted on the change.

Amar-Ul-Haq Choudhry, RCTA Secretary, said: “There is already evidence of increased fly-tipping in public areas including gardens, and even vermin in nearby Whalley Range.

"How far do things need to go before Manchester Labour listen to us rather than palming us off with standard responses and mocking our campaign?

"This decision has been made by the Manchester Labour group and is a local decision, so why were local people not consulted?"

Chrissie McCall, who has been campaigning with Mr Choudhry, said: “We’re really grateful to John Leech for stepping in, we’ve been sending detailed emails explaining our position and outlining our concerns but the council seem to just be sidestepping our questions. Hopefully now Manchester Labour will begin to listen the concerns of 7,000 people instead of undermining our efforts.”

Adding insult to injury, some are insisting that Manchester council is ‘spying’ on local residents to ensure they recycle. 

The Labour run council has been accused of tracking how much waste people were chucking away, with some residents fearing a fine if caught not recycling. Manchester Council say the devices are simply ‘digital identity tags’ to keep track of the new bins.

The cost of adding the devices has not been revealed.

Mr Leech concluded: ”Labour claim that the bins needed to be changed because they were coming to the end of their useful life, but the vast majority of them were in perfectly good condition.

“This is yet another example of the council wasting millions of pounds which would be better spend protecting front line services, looking after the homeless, housing child refugees or one of the other duties that Manchester Labour is avoiding under the cover story that they have no money.

“This kind of reckless spending needs to stop. Changing bins should not have been a priority.”

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