Rother refuse: in a mess

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Rother bins in Winchelsea. Photo: Richard Comotto

Readers will already be aware of the arguments raging over the use of wheelie bins in historic areas, like the Rye and Winchelsea citadels, as well as the high streets of Battle and other towns in Rother, where many houses do not have side access to the backyards in which bins are kept.

In Winchelsea, the question of how to dispose of non-compostable garden waste has also been the subject of correspondence between residents and Rother since the latter announced it would no longer collect garden waste from those without new brown wheelie bins.

Under the previous refuse and recycling regime, residents in the core of Winchelsea citadel were able to put out bags of garden waste for collection. Under the new regime, Rother insists that either residents buy a new brown wheelie bin or they go to the nearest dump. This applies even to residents who have no side access down which to trundle the wheelie bins nor a car to go to the dump.

However, district councillors claim that Rother officers have told them that residents can continue to put out garden waste in bags. A team from Rother knocking on doors in Winchelsea to inform (some) residents of the new regime professed to be unaware that there was any problem in the town.

In the resulting confusion, some residents have contacted Rother directly. They have been told that there will be no further collection of garden waste from the kerbside. When asked why this collection was being stopped, they have been told that the previous policy was a mistake and should never have been allowed in the first place.

However, a district councillor has suggested that the problem exists because council officials forgot to raise the issue of citadels and high streets in negotiations with the new contractor, who was unwilling to continue the previous collection policy without additional payment.

Winchelsea residents complain that the amenities division at Rother has a history of being unhelpful. They point to a dispute about waste bins at the public lavatories in Winchelsea. These are small and frequently overwhelmed by rubbish dumped by people parking at the lay-by outside and by users of the bottle bank which is also located there.

Some years ago, Winchelsea ward councillors succeeded in persuading the parish council to buy a large replacement bin of a design that would be in keeping with the conservation area. The council was then told by district councillor Paul Osborne that Rother amenities had offered to buy the bin for the parish council. However, the bin never arrived and all inquiries by Osborne were simply ignored by officials at amenities. To this day, that new bin has never appeared.

The question now being asked is, when it comes to amenities, who calls the shots at Rother? Is it the councillors elected by taxpayers to direct the officials or is it the officials?

I will write again about Rother amenities – next time about the collapsing public toilets at Winchelsea.

* To view Rother’s official position on collecting garden waste visit this page on its website.

Richard Comotto is a member of Winchelsea Heritage group