11 Tory councillors complain after Central Beds Council's new garden waste policy was revealed via social media - before they were told

Central Bedfordshire Council Chicksands HQCentral Bedfordshire Council Chicksands HQ
Central Bedfordshire Council Chicksands HQ
Conservative councillors critical of CBC's Independent administration sharing the updates via social media

A social media post about Central Bedfordshire Council’s garden waste plans has prompted a complaint from 11 Conservative councillors about the way the Independent administration is running local authority affairs.

The Tory councillors have complained to the council’s chief executive and its director of place and communities voicing their “extreme frustration” over such updates appearing on social media before being shared with them.

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CBC’s Dunstable Independents posted on Facebook last night (Thursday, March 14): “All the information about the garden waste charge will be included on a leaflet accompanying the new council tax bills.”

The new garden waste charge is an opt-in system, it confirmed. “Anyone who doesn’t join the scheme may keep their green wheelie bin, which could be turned into a composter.

“Everyone joining will receive a sticker for their bin to identify it to be emptied. You can join during the year, but the charge will remain at £55, with no discounts for anyone.

“If the previous CBC administration had increased council tax this time last year, there would be enough money available to not have to bring in this charge.”

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The Conservative councillors are asking for “an appropriate communication without delay”.

The complaint was sent to chief executive Marcel Coiffait and director of place and communities Lorna Carver, saying: “We, the undersigned, being duly elected members of CBC, wish to register our extreme frustration that the practical operational details of this scheme are shared with the public by social media posts, before being given to local councillors.

“We’ve all been taking questions from our town and parish councils, to which we’ve dutifully responded that we’re sure details will be shared in an appropriate fashion soon. Shared screenshots of an Independent councillor’s Facebook posts isn’t an appropriate fashion.

“Please would you confirm that elected members will receive an appropriate communication without delay, and that the early sharing, presumably in the hope of gaining political advantage, is in no way endorsed or enabled by the corporate management team.”

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The letter is signed by Sue Clark (Cranfield and Marston Moretaine), Kevin Collins (Caddington), Paul Daniels (Northill), Grant Fage (Biggleswade East), Eugene Ghent (Dunstable West), James Jamieson (Westoning, Flitton and Greenfield), Drew Richardson (Clifton, Henlow and Langford), David Shelvey (Clifton, Henlow and Langford) (Philip Spicer (Eaton Bray), Blake Stephenson (Meppershall and Shillington) and Richard Wenham (Clifton, Henlow and Langford).

The local authority’s Independent administration included charging for garden waste as part of its plans to close a £39m gap between its income and expenditure for 2024/25.

“With regret, and in line with many other councils, this includes implementing a garden waste collection charge,” said CBC’s executive member for finance and Independent Aspley and Woburn councillor John Baker in a Facebook post last month. “It’s not a decision we took lightly, but is unavoidable while we repair the council’s finances.

“Notably none of those Conservative councillors complaining about this charge have managed to come up with a credible plan to avoid it, beyond telling fairy tales of imaginary money from government.”