DRINKING fountains have been ruled out as an option to help reduce plastic-waste in Stratford.
Stratford District Council (SDC) operations’ spokesman Coun Ian Shenton has slammed the idea – put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Fradgely – branding it ‘yesterday’s solution’.
In an initial response to Coun Fradgely’s suggestion, SDC leader Tony Jefferson said the authority was looking to provide free fountains in Henley Street and it would be the ‘first step’ to making water bottle refilling stations available in the town.
It is understood fountains in Henley Street will still be installed as part of a joint project with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, for a major facelift of the town’s most famous street, using a £462,000 grant from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
But Coun Shenton said installing fountains elsewhere would be too costly for the Conservative-led council and insisted the ‘Refill’ scheme – which encourages businesses to offer free water bottle refills via an app – was more efficient.
He said: “Installing fountains across Stratford-on-Avon district would be costly and cause disruption to visitors and business alike and any roll-out of such a scheme would take months whereas, by joining forces with the Refill scheme, we can help increase footfall into businesses across the district and achieve the aim of reducing the number of single use bottles dramatically now, rather than in the future.
“At present Greggs, Premier Inn and Costa Coffee are registered on the app and we aim to encourage all businesses to sign up and offer to refill visitors’ water bottles with tap water, for free.
“Businesses can be recognised by the Refill scheme sticker that has been placed in a prominent place, as well as by the app, and the district council will be publicising the scheme at events and on its own website.
“This is an up-to-date and cost effective solution for today, not the expensive water fountains that are yesterday’s solution.”
But Coun Fradgely was not convinced.
He told the Observer: “In a week when we’ve just seen the highest ever recorded temperature in the UK, it’s disappointing that the Conservatives won’t take even a simple step forward on climate change by doing more to cut the number of single-use plastic bottles.
“Water fountains outside all the public toilets in the district would not be costly – council officers say it could be paid for out of the savings from the expected cut in business rates on public toilets.
“Coun Shenton suggests filling water bottles in shops instead, but many of our towns don’t have the chains that he mentions – it’s a long drive from Shipston or Studley to get to Stratford to fill up your water bottle – and shops have limited opening hours.
“Many other councils across the country have gone the water fountain route, but yet again the Conservatives in Stratford appear unwilling to move with the times.”
Visit refill.org.uk for more information and to download the Refill app.