THE ‘RATTLE test’ suggestion to check Stratford residents dispose of their garden waste responsibly has been branded ‘intimidation’ by a district councillor.
Following public backlash over his suggestion contractors rattle bins to hear what was inside, Stratford District Council Cabinet member Ian Shenton claimed the idea, made at a recent Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) committee meeting, was ‘not serious’.
The suggestion was made during a discussion over the controversial decision to introduce an annual £40 garden waste disposal charge after residents argued householders might place their green waste in black waste bins to avoid paying.
But after the response made national press headlines, it was dismissed as ‘not serious’ by the Conservative-led council.
Coun Shenton said: “I spoke about rattling the bins just to illustrate a point that there are simple solutions available to monitor the bins, it was not meant as an actual suggestion, I mentioned it during a lighthearted discussion and I’m sorry for this. Measures we are probably going to be looking at are using camera technology in the cabs of collection vehicles and things like that – not a ‘rattle test’.”
But councillors and residents have dismissed the retraction believing Coun Shenton’s suggestion was ‘serious’ and was also ‘intimidation’.
Independent Southam councillor Tony Bromwich said: “I believe Coun Shenton was serious about the comments made.
“It is my belief that Coun Shenton was trying to almost intimidate members of the public into paying the green waste charge knowing there is big hostility to the charge.
“Lazy budgeting led to the original decision and that the Conservative group has now dug itself into a big hole.”
Liberal Democrat and scrutiny committee member David Curtis agreed the debate had been ‘serious and sometimes heated’.
He added: “I am not surprised that after the event, when these comments have been ridiculed by the national press, that Coun Shenton tries to position these comments as ‘lighthearted discussion and not meant seriously’, however this is not a lighthearted matter.”
The district council has argued the charge – set to be introduced in June – was necessary to plug gaps in government funding.