Barking and Dagenham Council spending £80,000 on bin strikes

A number of councillors wore GMB shirts at the meeting

A number of councillors wore GMB shirts at the meeting - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham Council have spent more than £80,000 on extra security and added working costs as a result of the ongoing bin strikes, but are still almost £50,000 better off.

Members of the GMB Union protesting before the council meeting

Members of the GMB Union protesting before the council meeting - Credit: Archant

At a tense council assembly meeting dominated by the ongoing disputes last night – 12 members wore GMB t-shirts – questions were asked about the full costs of the ongoing industrial walk-outs.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Dominc Twomey told the council, and a host of union members in the public gallery, that £37,122 has been spent on security and £30,430 on recruiting other council staff to deliver the borough’s green garden waste collection service.

The remaining £13,000 has been spent on other costs including communications, vehicles and the extension of opening to Frizlands Lane recycling centre.

However, due to £128,600 of savings made from striking workers’ salaries – the council have essentially saved £47,920 to date, as a direct result of the walk-outs.

When the current strike ends on Tuesday, the average striker will have lost £2,500 in pay.

The cabinet was also quizzed about offering residents a council tax rebate, due to the waste collection disruption, but this suggestion was dismissed by Cllr Twomey.

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“Council tax is a statutory tax which we have for a range of different services of which refuge collection is just one small part,” he said.

“Even if we considered a rebate we’d be only looking at about 30p a week for residents for waste collection.”

GMB members were vocal throughput the meeting, interjecting and interrupting members with shouts of “tell the truth” at “stop being disingenuous” at various stages.

Tensions eventually boiled over after the meeting – Cllrs Linda Reason and Lynda Rice both raising their voices – but the presence of two policeman outside the chamber “disgusted” ex-council leader Cllr Liam Smith.

“The fact that police are being used for events like these must mean we’ve got the lowest crime figures in the country,” he told the Post afterwards.

“We’ve got people being stabbed and worse out there so if this is a proper use of public money, I feel sorry for every victim of crime.

“Even in the dark days of the BNP we never had this – it’s disgusting.”

A minute’s silence was also held in memory of former councillor, freeman and alderman of the borough John Davis, who died on March 18.

Mr Davis had lived in the borough for more than 50 years, working at Ford for 35 of those, and council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell led a series of tributes.

“He gave so much to the borough,” he said.

“He will be sorely missed by myself and my family. Long may he be remembered.”