Campaign for Horsham food waste bins

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As reported in your newspaper (‘Mums in call for waste food bins’, WSCT, 14 March 2019 ), I delivered a petition with over 1,000 signatures to Horsham District Council’s offices, for the attention of the council leader Ray Dawe.

This petition called upon the council to introduce a weekly household food-waste recycling service in Horsham. The aim of the petition was to encourage the council to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to help reduce carbon emissions in light of the IPCC report which raised serious concerns about the impact of these emissions on our environment and advises that we reduce our carbon footprint by 45 per cent in the next 11 years.

The response to the petition from Horsham residents was extremely positive. Not only did they see the introduction of this service as providing an opportunity for us to collectively address serious concerns about the future of our environment, but it also seemed to be a sensible step in view of the detrimental impact of the council’s decision to reduce the domestic waste bin collection to a fortnightly service.

People were also hopeful that a step towards increased recycling would eliminate the need for the recently proposed local incinerator. I was also hopeful of a favourable response to the petition in light of the recent waste strategy announcement which aims to achieve universal food waste recycling in England by 2023, which although welcomed is still simply not soon enough.

In view of the above you can imagine my disappointment with the council’s response to the petition. Firstly, it took over three weeks to receive a formal response from the council leader. In the interim, I had received mixed messages from some of his Conservative colleagues, who seemed to suggest that Horsham council would be taking part in the pilot food waste recycling project due take place later this year. I was, therefore, surprised to learn from the Leader of the council that this was not the case. In his response he failed to address any of the many positive points raised by the petition in favour of the early introduction of the service. Instead he dismissed these points by saying that Horsham has the highest recycling rates in the county and implied that there was no intention to improve on this until the pilot project had been reviewed.

He claimed that there was currently no facility to deal with food waste, which seems strange in view of the plan to shortly run a pilot project in the county. This also contradicts what we have been told from the MBT plant in Warnham. Furthermore, he said the locality of the pilot project (Mid Sussex) was unimportant.

In view of this fairly definitive statement from the council leader, I was surprised to read in a Conservative election leaflet that said ‘Action from Horsham District Council - we have been in discussions with other West Sussex councils about a food waste trial to take place in autumn.’

This is clearly a completely misleading statement intended to give the impression that Conservative candidates will be taking imminent action to introduce a food waste collection scheme in Horsham, when they have no intention of doing so. I have asked Ray Dawe why this statement has been published in his Party’s election leaflet but he has not given an acceptable reply.

I would like Cllr Ray Dawe to know that, for those of us who are extremely concerned about the future of our planet, the need to take immediate and effective action to protect it is a serious matter. It is not appropriate as a subject of misleading statements, banded about election time to try to gain a few votes.

The council can and should aim to do more than achieve a few arbitrarily set targets, which, by the way, are exceeded by many progressive councils throughout the country. And as a minimum, it should listen to the concerns of his community on this important issue and make an effort to address them.

Lucy Holloway

Trafalgar Road, Horsham

Editor’s note: in response to the issues raised, Ray Dawe, Leader of Horsham District Council, said: ‘‘I was in email correspondence with Ms Holloway over a period of two or so weeks about food waste collection and in a series of four email exchange with her made it clear that the situation is exactly as the Conservative manifesto says and that HDC has, ‘been in discussions with other West Sussex councils about a food waste trial to take place in the autumn’.

‘‘I emphasised that the purpose of such a trial would be to fully evaluate how the best result, including maximising public acceptance and use of a new service, is best achieved. I also said that it is likely that this trial will take place in an area of Mid Sussex district but that all participating West Sussex councils will share the outcome. There are other councils that have a higher recycling rate in the country than in our district. However, it is a fact that we have the highest recycling level of all councils in West Sussex.

‘‘Last year Horsham District had the ninth biggest recycling increase nationwide and yes we want to do more!’’