The petition calling for a proportional refund to Birmingham City residents’ council tax for over 3 months of waste collections strikes gathered over 14,400 signatories triggering a decision by the Scrutiny Committee.
I was proud to commit on behalf of so many my argument why residents are entitled to a refund. Residents have received in 14 weeks of strikes, with some having 7 consecutive missed collections, massive inconvenience to a basic service and obligation by the Council. There was a huge impact to residents and the reputation of the city nationally as well as potential heath risks and the costs incurred by so many who took their waste to the local skip by themselves.
My biggest concern however was the damage to the relationship between the Council and residents- we as elected members need and should apologise and recognise the impact to residents and make amends to restore that trust. How else are we to reverse the image that politicians are not to be trusted and nothing will change.
In the discussion that followed, some comments that followed were petty and hardly built constructively on the debate instead having snide digs amounting to little more than political point scoring. Central arguments were misunderstood and small errors seized to undermine the entire argument.
Ultimately the one fell along party lines- 4 Lib Deb and Conservative votes for, 4 Labour votes against. The Labour chair had the casting vote.
While disappointed, I appreciated that there was more that could have been done and probably should have been done on behalf of residents to make the argument stronger. The strength of disillusionment and apathy in the city was evident and I felt this vote did nothing to reverse that. The city needs a change in leadership.