Back when it was first announced that Cory Environmental had not been short-listed for the new waste collection contract, senior Conservatives in Southend (the few of them who are left) unexpectedly went to bat for the private company.
It was a travesty! they cried. It would lead to the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together!
Or, more specifically, that under the new provider waste would only be collected once every two weeks rather than weekly, as it is presently. This was the great bogeyman which, according to the blue corner, Southend had brought on itself by daring to vote for anyone but the Conservatives.
It’s not true, of course. There are no plans under the joint administration to change to a fortnightly schedule, nor have there ever been.
James Courtenay, my Tory opponent in Blenheim Park in May, agrees, saying:
“You can’t move to fortnightly collections – the last Conservative Administration made sure of that, when we accepted government funding for food waste collections.“
Which begs the question: why were his colleagues were so adamant that this was exactly what was intended? Mark Flewitt’s blog is an endless treasure trove of surreal nonsense, but I would cite a post helpfully titled “Cory dropped for fortnightly collections?“, in which he writes a cringingly awful open letter to Cory employees, including the passage:
“We recognise that waste collection from local authorities is commercially sensitive and we wonder if the loss of your contract has something to do with any un-willingness (on your part) to revert to a fortnightly collection of all waste or black sacks in particular?“
Perhaps slightly more authoritatively than Cllr Flewitt’s ramblings, here is the section from the reverse of a leaflet from David Amess in Westborough ward (though distributed in Prittlewell, for reasons unknown):
It’s entirely devoid of context, as befitting what a useless leaflet this is, but a call to stop something presupposes it’s happening, surely?
One interesting point to make is that at the meeting of the full council on 23rd October 2014, Labour’s Cllr Kevin Robinson asked the portfolio holder for Waste about that Tory leaflet:
Cllr Robinson: “Could I just ask the portfolio holder [Cllr Terry] if he could outline why this administration’s policy on fortnightly collections is different to any potential plans that the previous conservative administration had?“
Cllr Terry: “Well, the difference is, I have nothing in writing, but I understand the previous portfolio holder [Tony Cox] working with the Conservative administration was considering introducing fortnightly collections. However, whatever happened, and I don’t have any direct records of it, but this type of scaremongering, scurrilous type of leaflet is just one angle.
“I would like to say, Mr Mayor, we’ve also had articles in the paper — we’ve had an unwritten rule in this council that we don’t bring people’s employment into question, and we’ve had members of the other side writing articles knowing full well that TUPE regulations apply. I do wish that the scaremongering would stop, and I do wish that the particular councillor in question would actually apologise to the workers and families, who work for Cory, for upsetting them, causing them distress over employment, and also similarly stop publishing lies. Thank you.“
At any rate, it’s nice of James to actually confirm that his party colleagues were, as I said, scaremongering about something they knew was not going to happening. There are no plans to switch to a fortnightly collection, and even if the council was so minded (which it is not), it is legally unable to until the end of 2017 at the earliest.
Thank you Cllr Courtenay, for confirming that you can’t trust a word the Tories say.