Some of the most basic and universal services provided by all local councils are waste collection, recycling, and street cleaning, writes Cllr Hamish McCallum, leader of Southwark Liberal Democrats…
That has been even more fundamental during the pandemic, as the lockdown led to us generating significantly more waste and recycling in our homes than before.
Yet my inbox has been inundated by residents complaining of overflowing communal bins, missed collections, litter on the streets and fly-tipping.
I applaud our waste contractors, street cleaners and front-line council workers who have kept services going throughout the pandemic; but it is clear that they are under-resourced and are low down on the Labour administration’s list of priorities.
As a result, several of my Liberal Democrat councillor colleagues have joined with other residents to form a ‘Litterati’ group, taking matters into their own hands and undertaking regular litter picks around the borough.
The Liberal Democrat Community Champion, cllr Maria Linforth-Hall, has also started a campaign to reduce fly-tipping and litter.
And what of recycling? When the Liberal Democrats ran the council, recycling rates rose six-fold from 3.4 per cent when we took over from Labour in 2002, to just under 25 per cent by 2010. They continued to rise to 35 per cent until 2014 but have since fallen back and flatlined around 34 per cent since then for 7+ years under Labour.
By contrast, the Liberal Democrats run 4 out of 5 of the top councils across England for reusing, recycling and composting.
The fact is that Southwark Labour has been rubbish at rubbish since they took over the council in 2010.
That is why the Liberal Democrats are committing to fixing this mess, and will be announcing our detailed policies soon for cleaner streets, improved waste and litter collections and an increase in our recycling rates.
This matters — not just for the hygiene of our estates and blocks, or the cleanliness of our streets; but it also matters for the climate emergency.
You can help by joining your local Litterati group (see @BermondseyUp on twitter) – and vote to get more Liberal Democrat councillors elected in 2022 to help achieve clean streets, sufficient waste collections and increased recycling.