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Bins failings are not acceptable

31 July 2013

FOR many residents, the only service they feel they get from the council for paying their council tax is getting their bins emptied once a week. When that goes wrong, they feel justifiably aggrieved and expect someone to be held to account.

People elect councillors to ensure the local authority machine delivers the services residents have the right to expect. The introduction of cabinets into local councils has undermined this accountability.

In the old days, if something went wrong a local authority director would be called by the relevant committee to account for the failings. These days they can hide behind the portfolio holder.

Where it is a failure of policy the portfolio holder should be held accountable. But in reality, while some cabinet members are personally involved in driving forward their agenda and giving real challenge, in other cases they can be little more than the mouthpiece of the authority officers. This is why I am a firm believer in elected mayors to lead local authorities.

Lets have no truck with any excuse about cuts. We all know this country has been living beyond its means for too long and tough action has to be taken. Our public servants need to rise to the challenge and do things better.

What actually happens is the machine looks after itself. Instead of challenging processes and streamlining bureaucracy, cuts are made at the sharp end of services.

So local organisations and charities who deliver valuable services more efficiently than the council have had their grants cut. Thurrock pays more officers more than £100,000 a year than ever, yet the council empties fewer bins.

The bin collection changes have been a failure. It’s time to fess up and go back to the old regime. Residents of Thurrock deserve weekly bin collections on a day they know about.

Those of us who are elected to represent the people of Thurrock need to give real challenge to ensure every pound of taxpayers’ money spent by Thurrock Council is spent wisely on services people want and need. Anything else is waste


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