Council debate on charges to disposal of clinical waste in Fenland has councillors in conflict as ‘alternative options’ are promised
A heated debate about introducing a charge for clinical waste disposal in Fenland saw councillors at loggerheads and members of the public ejected from a meeting this afternoon (Thursday).
It was decided that if the NHS are to bring in the charges next year, then the matter would be brought back to full council to see if “alternative options” could be considered.
More than 800 signatures were gathered on a petition against Fenland Council charging £8 for the collection of clinical waste and sharps boxes.
But councillors at today’s meeting at Fenland Hall were not swayed in favour of it, with various motions put forward until it was finally agreed that the decision would come after the NHS introduced the charges.
Sue Marshall, who presented the council with the petition, told councillors that if they were to support the charges they would be “acting unfairly and lacking any compassion for the vulnerable or elderly.”
“Shame on you Fenland if you bring in the charge on clinical waste,” was also the message from campaigner councillor Virginia Bucknor.
She said: “We were given ludicrous information in July about these charges without any discussion. It is not logical or sensible and will effect the vulnerable in our society.”
Two members of the public were asked to leave as the meeting was almost suspended when shouts of “how would you feel” and “shame on you” were echoed from the gallery as members swayed between motions.
Councillor Peter Murphy, cabinet member, emphasised that it was not the decision of the council but the NHS that would force them to implement the charges.
“This would involve specialist equipment and trained staff and the charges would be considerable for us, we’re talking around £130,000 a year,” he said.
“We do not want to do this but will have no choice if the NHS introduce it.
“I think you are over-hyping this and it’s not as bad as you make it out to be.”
Cllr Bucknor said after the meeting: “Well, the usual fancy footwork was done by the Conservatives today.
“They voted against supporting the petition despite the 881 votes from residents.
“Although they had advised councillors in several emails that they would be charging £8 from September 1, then deferred until January 1, they amended today’s motion - not to support the petition but in favour of “when the NHS introduce this, before making any decisions it will be brought back to council”.
She said: “We at least got the council not to just rubber stamp this charge and it will come back for councillors to agree.”