OK, the gloves are off. What is going on at County Hall? Groups of people in earnest conversation, looks more like the departure lounge at Heathrow. Bits of overheard conversation about “big black holes” and “If you think it is bad now, just wait a bit” make me think it is to do with The Budget.
If it is to do with the inability of Cornwall Council to provide us with the services that we have paid for via Council Tax, then it is about time we got some answers. If things are as desperate as we are told, then it is no good messing about with the “tea money”, we have to start looking at the big items of expenditure. One of the biggest is the waste contract, coming in at just under half a billion, and as this has to be paid off over a number of years, things are going to get a lot worse. Something is very wrong here.
At a very simplistic level, we pay our Council Tax to have our waste collected and treated. Most people cling to the ideas of fifty years ago when “waste” was something nasty, and you were lucky that those nice people came and took it away. Therefore you expect to pay for it. However, times have moved on, and waste is now a resource and a commodity that is worth money. The average value of one tonne of recycling is about £36 although some materials are worth a lot more. If you take your old car to the scrap man, you expect to get some money for it. Well, you would expect the Council to get some money back for your recycling wouldn’t you? But, two thirds of the waste is currently put into black bags and not recycled, so you wouldn’t expect money for that would you? Well you would be wrong.
It so happens that due to the waste contract signed by the Council they have to pay somebody else to treat our waste. Therefore instead of getting £36 per tonne for our recycling, we have to pay Sita £56 per tonne to take it away to sell it. And that is not all. The black bag waste will soon be being used as fuel in an incinerator to generate electricity. The sale of the electricity is going to make money, so even the black bag waste is worth a lot of money.
Therefore, we are giving the Council our recycling and our black bags that are both worth money, and paying our Council Tax, and instead of this creating wealth for the Council to put into supplying services, they have to pay somebody else to take it away. You couldn’t make it up could you? So what happens when you confront the Council with these facts? You get an answer that is so obscure that it would make a magicians cloak look transparent. The Council say that as a result of making a present of all our valuable rubbish to Sita, those nice people have agreed to only charge us £500,000,000 for the contract! Otherwise it would have been more!
When you ask exactly how much we are being let off paying, the answer is top secret and the public are not allowed to know. When asked where we can see the figures, again we are told we are not allowed to see the figures, but apparently it is such a bad deal we have to pay for it with our recycling, our rubbish and our Council Tax, and the Council still haven’t got enough money for the basic services.
Now if I had a son still living at home, and in a decent job, I’d ask for a contribution towards the house-keeping. If he said he was always broke and couldn’t pay, I’m afraid I would start looking for evidence of some sort of addiction that was sucking all his money away. The Council are addicted to these smooth talking salesmen who have got them hooked on out of house contracts with our money. If you ask them to stop they can’t, not because they would get cold turkey, but because the dealers have got better enforcers than the public. They are called expensive lawyers.
So what can we do? Well if it was my son I would physically keep him away from his supply. Therefore the answer is simple. Your rubbish belongs to you. If you don’t like the way the Council are dealing with it, give it, (or better still join with the rest of your community and sell it), to somebody else. This is the way that the system works in California where they have an 80% recycling rate. Rubbish is such a valuable commodity that recycling bins have to be chained down to stop them from being stolen. Wake up before we all go down a black hole.