By Councillor Alan Baldock / Latest NewsServices / / 0 Comments

In a last-minute election dash, the Canterbury Conservatives are trying to convince us that their new waste collection idea for 2021 is going to be the “in-house” service we all want. But let’s be very clear. It won’t be. Their proposal for a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo), wholly owned by the Council, won’t look or feel like an “in-house” service which most of us would recognise.

Empowered by the 2011 Localism Act, Councils are now able to reject outsourcing and exercise greater control over their providers, feeding profits back into the local authority. But the Conservatives’ new proposals won’t work like that. Built into the plans is a degree of “flexibility,” which will benefit the council, not its workers. Their suggested new LATCo service could impose terms and conditions upon its employees which appear considerably less favourable than those enjoyed by direct Council employees. This is not Labour making an unfounded assumption, this change is the main reason the Tories are supporting this option. It appears in the report in black and white. It is designed to save them money.

Should the LATCo proposal be set in motion, our waste collection service may well be just SERCO in disguise, run by the Council in your name. Little will change on the outside. Quite possibly you will still get your bins collected by agency staff on short term contracts, but on zero-hour contracts and paid the minimum wage, with no guaranteed hours to bring stability to their lives. Make no mistake, this is the true face of the “flexibility” which the Tories intend to use LATCo to conceal. Canterbury’s residents and workers deserve better. There is no reason that a true in-house operation cannot be equally able to accommodate the many changes ahead for waste management, but without the imposed “flexibility” of poor pay and conditions. Yet that option has already been dismissed by the local Conservatives.

Labour will be opposing this proposal on these principles, not because we are stuck in a time-warp, but because we feel strongly that CCC should be setting a better example. It should be a fair and ethical employer, not one that is prepared to set itself up deliberately to pass on the consequences of in-work poverty to the taxpayer, and to wash their hands in the tears of local families struggling to survive. I see nothing in this proposal that puts my mind at ease, nothing that sets out to create a true LATCo, if that is what they are wedded to. Such a company should be based around fair and ethical conditions of employment and one that would not create a two-tier CCC workforce serving our community.

Unbelievably the Tories seem to think that residents don’t care how their bin collection is run. Well, I can share this with them: people do care, they are communicating this to Labour every day. Residents will not support a service delivered on the back of poverty wages, poor conditions and insecure employment. Any LATCo established in the name of the people would be wise to take note.

This article first appeared in the Kentish Gazette on 14 March, 2019.

By Councillor Alan Baldock / Environment / 0 Comments

Did Canterbury rise to our Labour Group Challenge? Did people actually think about using an alternative to their car and did some actually give that alternative a go?  We will of course never know how many people did, but what we do know is that the challenge we offered commuters to Canterbury on 21st September turned heads towards facing the huge issue of congestion and pollution, especially during the commuter hours in Canterbury.

Feedback from our Facebook posts and the Canterbury Journal has been brisk, and we made the Meridian TV News.  That’s a great result and vitally important because we will never get to solve this re-occurring problem if we don’t listen to those it affects every day.  It is long overdue that Canterbury City Council took the lead in finding a solution and stopped passing the buck to KCC to solve, it’s our shared City, our children’s health and our everyday lives that are blighted by the curse of Canterbury’s traffic chaos.

It does not have to be this way so let’s start with working through the opportunities opened up by a truly integrated transport hub, an idea already popular with Canterbury people and probably the basis to build a long term solution.  Canterbury City Council have just published a report proudly proclaiming that they already have just such a place, Canterbury West Station.  That may well sound unbelievable even comic as their view of an integrated transport hub is a bus stop outside the station a few taxi bays and a cycle rack.  Not the radical idea being discussed by Canterbury residents, there vision and one we can share, is of a terminus serving cross City buses, Park and Rides and services buses, interlinked cycle routes to all parts of the City and plenty of taxi bays all focused at Canterbury West Station not a £9M car park built on the perfect location of just such a hub.

The transport hub is a possible solution, there may well be others that have not shown up just yet.  For our City to thrive as a business centre and to always have a warm welcome for visitors and be a place where it is a great to live, we have to solve our transport issues.  That must surly include developing an integrated approach able to grow with the City that is so much part of all our lives, no longer can we leave this to the whim of a developer or the crumbs from KCC it is time for Canterbury City Council to take the lead.  If the current Conservative administration can’t do it, step aside and let a Labour Council sort it.