Banbridge ratepayers opposed four-weekly bin collections


The article by John McCallister MLA (April 9) shows just how far removed he is from public opinion on the bins issue.

The first error in his statement was the fact that Banbridge District Council never made it ‘Policy’ for the four-week bin collections, they cloaked it as a ‘trial’ even though the so-called ‘trial’ had been implemented in the Gilford/Loughbrickland areas since Jan 2014 with no end date.

Drew Gregg, a spokesman for the ABC (Armagh Banbridge Craigavon) Bin Action group

Drew Gregg, a spokesman for the ABC (Armagh Banbridge Craigavon) Bin Action group

The council said that they had received few complaints from those areas yet when our group visited those areas we could not find any ratepayers who favoured it.

Mr McCallister quotes figures supplied to him by the council officers, yet we have asked for a breakdown of these figures but with no success.

Our group rejected what Mr McCallister refers to as ‘an independent survey carried out on behalf of the council’ for two reasons: the questions were weighted to favour an outcome which the council needed plus the survey was commissioned and paid for by the council so was certainly not independent.

I notice Mr McCallister makes no reference to the public survey carried out on Facebook where 1,900 names favoured the two-week collections with 12 names favouring the four-week collections, nor has he mentioned the petitions signed by local ratepayers objecting to the four-week collections.

I could go on and tear Mr McCallister apart on the majority of his statement, however he shall fall on his own sword if he chooses to ignore public opinion. The council tried to railroad their ludicrous four-week general waste black bin scheme through using ‘recycling’ as the mantra as Banbridge had become the recycling capital of Northern Ireland, if not the UK, and possibly they could have got away with it but for the public outcry via various Facebook pages including the council’s own Facebook page.

It was apparent that there were many issues with reducing general waste collections, a service which we all pay for with our rates by the way, it was also apparent that our councillors were burying their heads in the sand in the hope that the outcry would die off but instead it gained momentum not only in social media but also local press.

We were receiving messages of support from areas in England and Wales who were being faced with an increase to two and three week collections, they just could not understand Banbridge going for four weeks.

We challenged all local elected representatives to go on a door-to-door and find out for themselves. The only group we are aware of to do that were the DUP-led by our own MP and what they found was the vast majority of ratepayers they spoke to were opposed to four weeks.

This was all contrary to what Banbridge District Council were broadcasting, the DUP also raised an online survey which had a similar result.

The facts are: the ratepayers of Banbridge did not want stinking bins containing such things as nappies, incontinent pads, medical waste, food wrappings with traces of food and such like sitting at their back doors for four weeks attracting flies, maggots, mice/rats and other vermin not to mention the health and hygiene issues and the promotion of disease which vermin would bring to our back doors.

We are all for recycling and as a matter of fact we are good at recycling, as everyone knows, but it is not at any cost.

A line must be drawn when we are talking health and hygiene at our own home environments.

• Drew Gregg is a spokesman for the ABC (Armagh Banbridge Craigavon) Bin Action group