Councillor Robin Parker

Councillor Robin Parker CC

Dear Sir

Your otherwise factual article about recycling waste by Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) (Comet 14 July, page 30) nevertheless includes figures for the percentage of waste recycled by the council which do not agree with published information.

According to the official central government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) statistics for 2009/2010, which are the most recent, and are available on various web sites, the average household recycling rate, based on mass in tonnes, across England is now 39.7%, and not around 30% as quoted in the article. In comparison, the Stevenage figure is 39.1%, so we are not far below the average.

However, if you compare SBC with our neighbouring Hertfordshire councils, we are bottom of the local league. Official figures obtained by me from SBC this week show:

Authority Recycling 2010/11 (%)
Broxbourne 39.3
Dacorum 47.7
East Herts 48.2
Hertsmere 42.5
North Herts 50.3
St Albans 50.5
Stevenage 39.1
Three Rivers 51.1
Watford 40.3
Welwyn Hat. 36.0
Herts CC. 69.5
Herts Waste Partnership Total 48.5

Whilst it is true that factors such as denser building designs in Stevenage, compared with some more rural areas, may make our recycling task more difficult, it remains the case that the record of SBC on waste recycling is, and always has been, poor. I was a lone voice, back in 1995, calling in the council chamber for more recycling when SBC’s recycling percentage was only 2% (far less than many other authorities) and it was not until central government gave financial incentives to councils for increasing recycling targets that, about 10 years ago, SBC began to tackle recycling more seriously.

There are still problems with the council’s recycling in Stevenage – for example, the types of plastics permitted in the black box and exclusions from the brown bin – and these are not all under the council’s control, but a number of residents have said to me that if SBC were to return to weekly collections for some of the recyclables then it would help to overcome the problems of hygiene and space, caused by householders having to store bulky waste for up to a fortnight.

I told those residents that I would raise their concerns, and I have indeed done so, but restoring weekly collections would of course cost council taxpayers money. I would be interested to know if residents consider reintroduction of weekly collections a greater priority than some other things SBC spends their hard earned council tax on.

Yours sincerely

Robin Parker