Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

SDLP scrutiny results in Council’s blue bin decision: Byrne

 Slieve Gullion SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne says his party is playing a “key role” in scrutinizing Council decisions to ensure ratepayers are getting the best value for money.

Referring to proposals regarding the disposal of blue bin waste, Mr Byrne says the fruition of work by SDLP councillors resulted in a decision taken at a recent Regulatory and Technical Services (RTS) Committee meeting that will save millions of pounds as a result.

Commenting on the case, he said: “Following an eight month wait, Council officials and other parties accepted an original SDLP proposal to ensure an independent review took place into options relating to blue bin waste disposal.  My colleagues Cllr Gillian Fitzpatrick and Cllr Gary Stokes put forward the proposal last June after they felt that the original report put to them by officials lacked information and raised too many questions for them to support the Council’s preferred option.”

Despite the proposal being overturned at a later meeting, the councillors says “common sense” has since prevailed.

“After an economic appraisal took place into the options, it was revealed that Council officials’ preferred option was the most expensive on the table. Option 1, which would have cost the ratepayer £3m, allowed for Council to purchase new refuse collection vehicles to accommodate the collection of glass separately on blue bin week. However, Option 4, which the SDLP called to be fully costed in an independent review last June,costs just £15,000 to implement, representing savings of £263,600 per year. It allows for the extension of a co-mingled collection across the entire district,” he explained.

Councillor Byrne says questions still need to be answered as to why councillors were “misled with inaccurate information” but pledged his party’s full attention in carefully inspecting {“the papers that come before us”. 

“This ensures that ratepayers who elect us get the best value for money,” he said.  “It also means ridiculous decisions such as plans to reclassify Crossmaglen from a town to a village aren’t allowed to happen. Public representatives simply cannot give the nod to any proposal without knowing the full facts and implications for the ratepayer. On this occasion, we got it right.”