|Posted on 18 October, 2017 at 3:45|
It’s a sight familiar across the suburbs — old furniture, whitegoods, tree branches all piled up along the verges of households for bulk rubbish collection.
But in four local councils across Perth, the yearly ritual of turfing out junk for collection has come to an end and while the issue may seem innocuous, voters have made it a must-address item for the crowded field of candidates in the race for the City of Joondalup’s top job.
After a push by the administration last year, residents in Perth’s third-biggest council shifted to a new system for bulk rubbish, where instead of dumping their furniture and other junk on their verge, households are eligible to book a 3cum skip bin each year.
Joondalup joined neighbouring City of Stirling, as well as the Belmont and Bayswater councils in shifting from verge collections.
While the election has received interest because of the high-profile contest between former MPs Albert Jacob and Rob Johnson, the mayoral candidates have revealed to The West Australian that ratepayers were up in arms about the change, with several declaring they wanted to go back to the old system.
Russell Poliwka, a sitting councillor who has run for mayor twice before, said the change had received a lot of criticism from voters.
Criticisms include a limited list of eligible items to be put in the bins and the small size of the bins themselves.
Mr Poliwka, who supported the original change on council, said it was an issue the new mayor and council would have to deal with.
“I would certainly look at returning to the old system, even though we voted in the new system as a council, at the end of the day we’re there to represent the ratepayers and if they want to go back to bulk then we should,” he said.
“You can’t ignore ratepayers, if you do it’s at your peril.”
Mr Johnson, who lost his Hillarys seat in March after 24 years in State Parliament, said an online poll he had run had shown emphatic support for returning to the kerbside collection of bulk rubbish, with 75 per cent of voters endorsing such a move.
He said the original change was an example of the disconnect between councillors and the voters.
“There are so many things you cannot put in a bin and it doesn’t really answer the problems we are having — they are very small bins and older people cannot lift up over the top of the bin,” he said.
“Everybody wants the return of the verge collection because it’s easier to do.
“Local governments are supposed to be there for the residents and give them the service they deserve.”
Some candidates, including Craigie resident Graeme Strickland, are concerned a quintessential part of Aussie culture is at risk, with the days of roaming the streets during bulk pick up looking for gems at an end.
“A lot of people aren’t happy about it, because there was the opportunity for recycling, and getting things off the bulk rubbish and using them — it was an opportunity to do something good with some of the stuff,” he said.
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Gary Morris said the collections gave employment opportunities to people who looked to sell steel, while Chris Morrison said there was an opportunity for the city to collect the bulk rubbish at central locations and sell items in good shape at a shopfront.
But not everyone wants to return to the old system.
Warwick resident Nasir Shah said though he preferred the verge collections, he would stick with the bins if elected until a financial analysis of the two models was offered.
Brogan Murphy, the youngest candidate for mayor, said he wanted the community to organise something where residents could bring their bulk rubbish to sell in a swap meet-style event.
Mr Jacob, a former environment minister, said the goal of reducing what went into landfill had been noble, and outside of a few tweaks, the bin system should stay.
“My understanding is there is essentially a long-term contract in place but also I think bins are the best way to achieve recycling,” he said.
Retiring mayor Troy Pickard has defended the move, saying there had been a dramatic increase in the diversion rate of bulk hard waste going to landfill, from just 2 per cent to 48 per cent.
“The City’s on-request bulk hard waste service commenced in October 2016 and has already achieved significant positive results in terms of cost savings to ratepayers, increased diversion rates from landfill and improved visual amenity on suburban streets,” he said.
“The changes to the City’s method of collecting bulk hard waste was prompted by a waste management review carried out in 2014 that indicated the City collected more bulk waste per household than any other local government in Australia, and more than double the WA average.
“The cost of sending waste to landfill continues to rise each year and the City has worked hard to find a solution that offers more flexibility to residents as well as limiting future increases to operational costs.”
To view the article visit https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/battle-for-joondalup-turns-into-a-junk-pile-ng-b88618517z