A COUNCIL survey asking people for their views on bin collections only allows them to vote on proposals if they chose to approve cutting rounds to either monthly or once every three weeks.
Wheelie bins, containing household waste that cannot be recycled, are currently emptied every fortnight in Torfaen, but the borough council has said in order to hit a 70 per cent recycling target it needs to reduce the frequency of collections from March next year.
A survey on the council’s website, as part of its ongoing consultation on the changes, has already been criticised for only offering residents the option of supporting either a collection once every three weeks or once a month, with no option to maintain fortnightly bin rounds.
But a councillor who has resigned from the ruling Labour group in protest at the plan has highlighted how respondents have to back one of the reduced collection options just to take part in the survey.
Cllr Giles Davies, who is now an independent member for Abersychan after leaving the Labour group, highlighted the flaw in the survey on Twitter and pointed out the form on the council website doesn’t allow people to submit their answers unless they have answered the first question.
That asks people “Which option gets your vote?” and only gives respondents a chance to tick a box against “3 Weekly bin collections” or “4 Weekly bin collections”. A note above the question shows all questions marked with an asterisk are “required”.
Cllr Davies said the format of the survey means the results will be distorted and he believes it will be used by the council to claim an inaccurate level of support for reduced collections.
He wrote: “This information will be fed into the consultation so technically you are already agreeing to three-weekly or monthly.
“This isn’t acceptable.”
Under Torfaen’s plans food waste will continue to be collected every week but the survey also asks if people “recycle” their food waste due to analysis showing some residents aren’t using the separate food bins.
The first two questions are mandatory and a third, optional, question asks residents what would help them to “recycle more in general”.
But people cannot submit their answers unless they have expressed a preference for collections either every three weeks or once a month.
Cllr Davies said he believes the survey is designed to “give the council what it wants”.
He said: “It gives a couple of bad options and nobody will vote for the bad option they don’t want, which is four weekly collections.”
Council leader Anthony Hunt has previously said the options being consulted on are the “only realistic ones” for the council to reduce the amount of waste collected but the authority was asked if it recognised a flaw in the consultation that only allows people to take part if they express a preferrence for one of the collection options.
Simon Anthony, head of recycling and environment, said: “We are committed to increasing recycling rates in Torfaen and reducing residual waste collections is one measure being considered. As such, the consultation is to gauge which option residents would prefer.”