The Post-Christmas Clean Up (and the Cheltenham Recycling Consultation)

There are certain guaranteed features of our family Christmases in Cheltenham. Extended family coming to stay, church service in St Mary’s, warring children (obviously…), walks in Cox’s Meadow or up Leckhampton Hill.

And then the great clear up begins.

I make at least one trip to the Swindon Road recycling centre, with a cargo of packaging, paper and other waste. In my experience the centre is invariably heaving as families try to restore some order following the Christmas chaos.

But now I discover from a concerned constituent that they’re thinking of closing it! I think that would be a big mistake. It’s such a valuable resource for Cheltenham, and forcing local people to travel out of town creates further pollution and expense, and increases the risk of fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping is on the up. In 2017, local authorities in England dealt with around one million incidents, an increase of 7% on the previous year. Two thirds involved household waste. Last year several cases were prosecuted at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court.

Shutting Swindon Road will just make matters worse.

Then there’s the proposal to switch to three-weekly bin collections. Also not a good idea. The justification that it would improve recycling rates doesn’t really stack up. Here in Gloucestershire, Stroud and Cotswold District Councils recycle a far higher percentage of waste, but they still collect rubbish every two weeks. They use more sophisticated techniques instead, including a new system of coloured bags.

There are also real risks with three-weekly collections. When Argyll Council went from fortnightly to three week bin collections in 2016, residents complained of an “horrendous” smell, as well as a surge in rats, seagulls and flies.

It’s the last thing we need in Cheltenham.

Do have your say. The consultation was launched a few days before Christmas, and closes on 6 January. Easy to miss, you might say.

Meanwhile, a big thank you to local business Simpson’s who supplied a wall of fish and chips for the annual Cheltenham Open Door shelter in St Luke’s on Christmas Eve, free of charge. It went down a treat!